ASA considers political ad status

By JOHN TYLEE, campaignlive.co.uk, Friday, 05 September 1997 12:00AM

Advertising watchdogs are preparing to drop their control of political advertising, claiming it is too much of a hot potato to be policed properly.

Advertising watchdogs are preparing to drop their control of

political advertising, claiming it is too much of a hot potato to be

policed properly.



Instead, the major political parties are being asked if they would

prefer political ads to be treated as ’propaganda’ and so fall outside

the jurisdiction of the Advertising Standards Authority.



At the same time, the Committee of Advertising Practice is considering

relaxing the rules governing the portrayal of Royal Family members in

ads when new codes are published next year.



The proposed changes have been precipitated by the controversies

surrounding the M&C Saatchi poster for the Conservatives which depicted

Tony Blair with mad, staring eyes and Young & Rubicam’s ad for Live TV,

in which Paul Gascoigne appeared to be kissing Diana, Princess of

Wales.



The CAP, which determines the rules, is keen to end what it believes is

a highly unsatisfactory system, under which its control of political ads

is limited to matters of taste, decency and privacy.



But, unlike other advertisers, there is no obligation on political

parties to prove their claims to the ASA.



Now the CAP has written to political parties asking if they wish to be

fully within or outside the existing regulatory system.



But the way the parties have been approached has been criticised by some

CAP members, who believe the question is too even-handed. ’If the

parties opt to stay in the system, what the hell are we going to do?’

one asked.



’We know the ASA can’t police political ads effectively. We also know

that politicians will be happy to stay within the system while they can

use it as a weapon against their opponents, but will want out as soon as

they fall foul of an ASA ruling.’



Meanwhile, the CAP is likely to recommend less draconian rules on the

use of Royal Family members in ads, arguing that they should not be

treated any differently from other famous people.



Caroline Crawford, the ASA’s communications director, said: ’No

decisions on either matter have yet been taken.’



This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk

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