Ministers revise Bill after doubts raised over self-regulation

Ministers have acted to clear up legal doubts over plans to bring in a system of self-regulation to police television and radio advertising.

The Government has agreed to amend its Communications Bill after legal advice given to the Advertising Association raised questions about whether the measure would allow Ofcom to devolve the regulation of broadcasting ads to a new body which would mirror the Advertising Standards Authority.

The decision is a sign ministers are prepared to back calls to bring control of broadcasting into line with print after months of conflicting signals from the Government.

The move was welcomed by the AA, which will consult the industry on a proposed system before Easter and submit proposals to Ofcom in May.

John Greenway, the Tory spokesman on broadcasting, led calls for the Bill to be strengthened because of the AA's legal advice. As originally drafted, he said, the move towards self-regulation would be "seriously inhibited".

Kim Howells, the minister for broadcasting, accepted the need to clear up the confusion. He said Ofcom would "consider whether the self-regulatory body is sufficiently independent from industry and whether it is adequately funded".

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