Govt to review broadcast ad rules

The Government is considering proposals by the advertising industry to scrap the system of statutory controls over television and radio commercials.

The Government is considering proposals by the advertising industry to scrap the system of statutory controls over television and radio commercials.

The Advertising Association has submitted plans for broadcast advertising to be controlled on the same self-regulatory basis as press and posters.

The proposals are being studied by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), which will publish a white paper on communications jointly with the Department of Trade and Industry in the next two months.

The DCMS has asked the AA to answer 19 follow-up questions on its submission to the white paper. There have also been two meetings between officials from the department and the association.

The AA has told the Government that the present system run by the Independent Television Commission and the Radio Authority is working well, but that the convergence of broadcasting and telecommunications 'will bring a new need for flexibility and speed for which an effective self-regulatory system is more appropriate'.

Andrew Brown, the AA's director-general, said that the need to reform the overlapping regulatory bodies was highlighted by last week's ruling by the Broadcasting Standards Commission that TV work for Typhoo Tea by Mother, featuring Indian plantation workers, encouraged racial stereotyping.

A similar complaint was rejected by the ITC in July. Brown admitted that the industry did not yet have a blueprint for self-regulation of broadcast ads, but said it would begin the task of drawing up one if the Government expressed interest in the idea. Although the paper is unlikely to call for an immediate switch to self-regulation, ministers may put the plan on their agenda when they draw up a communications bill after the next general election.

'We want a flexible system in the hands of the industry,' Brown said.

'We are not saying that broadcasting advertising should be transferred to the ASA. It may or may not need a different body.'