ASA opts out of policing election ads

Most political advertising will be exempt from the industry’s code under proposals expected to be approved by the Committee of Advertising Practice next Wednesday (25 November).

Most political advertising will be exempt from the industry’s code

under proposals expected to be approved by the Committee of Advertising

Practice next Wednesday (25 November).



A new draft code says that ads which are designed mainly to influence

how people vote should no longer be policed by the Advertising Standards

Authority. Instead, they should be covered by new rules to be agreed by

the political parties.



Non-controversial party ads - such as those aimed at recruiting members

or raising funds - and those by pressure groups would still be covered

by the industry’s code.



But with most political ads concentrated in election periods, the

majority would come under a separate political code and could no longer

be the subject of an ASA complaint. Campaigns by trade unions or other

organisations during an election would also fall under the new rules,

which could be supervised by an independent Electoral Commission.



There has been growing frustration in the industry about the present

’halfway house’ in which the parties are covered by the code but do not

have to prove their claims like other advertisers.



CAP has seized the opportunity handed to it by an inquiry into party

funding by Lord Neill’s committee on standards in public life, which

urged the parties to draw up new rules for ad campaigns.



John Hooper, the chairman of CAP, had consulted all its members about

the proposed change. ’It is a very positive move; we are certainly keen

to follow up the suggestion by the Neill committee,’ he said.



Although the CAP will help parties to draw up a code, its initiative may

anger politicians who now face the task of agreeing rules governing

their most controversial ads.



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