Government backs call to limit Ofcom regulatory controls

LONDON - The government has backed moves to limit Ofcom's power to regulate broadcast advertising when a new system of self-regulation is introduced.

The House of Commons this week overturned a decision by the House of Lords to restrict the scope of Ofcom's code on television and radio commercials. But Tessa Jowell, the culture secretary, conceded defeat by accepting the principle behind the changes to the communications bill demanded by peers.

The Lords voted to limit the code to tackling "misleading, harmful or offensive" ads, while the government originally proposed that it cover "unsuitable" ads -- a move strongly opposed by the Advertising Association.

Jowell told MPs that the government had tabled its own amendment to the bill because the Lords amendment failed to address two issues -- continuing the ban on political advertising and ensuring Britain met its international obligations.

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