NEWS: Govt debates mould-breaking move to put charity ads on TV

Charities such as Amnesty International could be allowed to advertise on television if an amendment to the Broadcasting Bill, currently under debate in Parliament, is passed.

Charities such as Amnesty International could be allowed to advertise on

television if an amendment to the Broadcasting Bill, currently under

debate in Parliament, is passed.



Barry Field, the Tory MP for the Isle of Wight, has tabled the

amendment, which would relax the Independent Television Commission’s

code of practice for ads by voluntary organisations.



Field’s main aim is to enable voluntary groups to run one-off campaigns

on regional TV. At present, they are barred unless they are registered

charities.



His move could also boost groups such as Amnesty, which want to run

high-profile nationwide campaigns. It has been restricted by rules that

allow it to make its case in newspapers and posters but not on the TV or

radio.



Although the Charities Act allows charities to take part in political

activity, the 1990 Broadcasting Act outlaws any ad ‘directed towards any

political end’. The ITC and Radio Authority codes prohibit issue

campaigns aimed at influencing legislation or the government.



Voluntary groups claim the law ‘is a complete mess’ and have welcomed

the prospect of a debate on the issue when the Broadcasting Bill reaches

its report stage.



Field said he would be pleased if groups such as Amnesty were helped by

his proposal. ‘It is a grey area of the law,’ he added. ‘This is a good

deregulatory measure. There have been liberalising moves to allow more

advertising, but some of the prohibitions are rather odd and old-

fashioned by modern standards.’



He said his amendment to the 1990 Broadcasting Act would not allow

political parties to exploit the new rules.