NEWS: Labour tells ASA to get tough on ad offenders

The Labour Party will allow the advertising industry until the general election next spring to give the Advertising Standards Authority more clout. Changes will then be enforced if it wins power.

The Labour Party will allow the advertising industry until the general

election next spring to give the Advertising Standards Authority more

clout. Changes will then be enforced if it wins power.



Nigel Griffiths, Labour’s spokesman on consumer affairs, has already

gone on record to say he wants the ASA to have the power to impose fines

on advertisers that repeatedly breach the code of practice (Campaign, 11

October).



This week, he said: ‘The industry is being served notice. It has got

about six months to get its act together and to show that it can crack

down on repeat offenders. I am hoping that it can tackle some of the

criticisms. If it can’t, we won’t hesitate to legislate.’



The Opposition spokesman admitted that Labour would prefer to drop its

1992 general election pledge of legislation to clean up the industry.

‘The case has not been made for putting the ASA on a statutory basis,

but there is a case for giving it powers to fine if those powers are not

accepted voluntarily. It must put its house in order.’



Griffiths said he has no plans to publish a policy document and that

this week’s statement would be the basis on which the party fought the

general election.



Labour’s warning will fuel the debate in the industry about self-

regulation (Campaign, last week).



Griffiths said he was ‘giving careful consideration’ to proposals by the

Consumer’s Association, which called for the ASA to have powers ‘to fine

advertisers who contravene the code, whether deliberately or

negligently’.



The Consumer’s Association also said the ASA should be able to ‘oblige

advertisers who have misinformed the general public to publicise full

retractions at their own expense, giving these retractions at least

equal prominence as the original adverts’.



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