SYDNEY: The Australian Association of National Advertisers, for ten years the nation's sole arbiter of which ads are (or aren't) kosher, has agreed to dilute its sole control of self-regulatory body, the Advertising Standard Bureau.

The concession has been made in response to urgings by the Advertising Federation of Australia, representing ad agencies.

The AFA argues that a self-regulatory system aligned to the more stringent European Advertising Standards Alliance model is necessary to pre-empt threatened interference by the government.

Says AANA executive director Colin Segelov: "They [the AFA] have a point. The AANA wants to be at the forefront of world's best practice, not the tail.

"Our view of world's best practice is the same as the AFA regards it, which is coming out of Europe. We know we've got a little bit to do. This will probably come about within months, not years."

The catalyst for the AANA's abrupt volte face is the recent review by the Australian Communications and Media Authority of children's TV standards - and especially growing concern about child obesity and the way in which alcohol is portrayed in ads.

According to Segelov, the AANA is working on plans to extend representation on the standards bureau board to agencies and the media industry.

Although control and management of the advertising codes will initially remain with the AANA, the body has stated it is ready to relinquish its grip if European guidelines so require.

Data sourced from Sydney Morning Herald; additional content by WARC staff