An advertising watchdog is warning magazine publishers that
’chatline’ ads which demand higher prices for male callers than women
The Committee of Advertising Practice, the body that writes the code for
the Advertising Standards Authority, is stating that ads featured in
National Magazine Company titles and Loot could contravene the Sex
Discrimination Act as they promote a service that is priced to encourage
women to call. Charges are either lower or totally free for female
Susanna Hughes, free ads manager at Loot, welcomed the intervention,
saying the issue needed clarification.
’These ads have been the industry norm for a long time but this is the
first time the issue has been challenged,’ said Hughes. ’It is a bit
like women going into clubs for free. If the Consumers Association is
picking up on it, it could change the whole sector. We will be reviewing
our policies,’ she added.
Media Business discovered discriminatory ads were still being run for
chatlines such as Speakeasy. In the Evening Standard’s Hot Tickets, for
example, ads were offering men the service at 60p a minute, while women
could call in free.
A spokesperson for CAP said the organisation wanted to highlight the
problem to the industry so it could take appropriate action. ’Some
publishers are reviewing their policies,’ he added.
It is unlikely the matter will get as far as legal action as this would
require a complainant to come forward.