NEWS: Minister rules out TV spots for Amnesty International

The Government has blocked a move to allow voluntary groups such as Amnesty International to advertise on television and radio.

The Government has blocked a move to allow voluntary groups such as

Amnesty International to advertise on television and radio.



The National Heritage Minister, Iain Sproat, rejected pressure from both

Conservative and Labour MPs to relax the Independent Television

Commission and Radio Authority codes of practice, which outlaw ads by

bodies with political objectives.



The Government is under pressure to act after the Tory MP, Barry Field,

tabled an amendment to the Broadcasting Bill currently going through

Parliament (Campaign, last week).



Field’s amendment has been taken up by the Labour Party, with the

Opposition spokesman on broadcasting, Lewis Moonie, saying: ‘There are

humanitarian reasons for deeming advertising from Amnesty International

and similar organisations non-political.’



The minister admitted that there was concern that bodies with worthy

aims could not advertise, but added: ‘To open the way for one would

allow all sorts of campaigning and issue-based advertising into our

homes.’



He said the curbs on political advertising, which date back to 1954 and

the launch of commercial television, had served Britain well. ‘We have

avoided broadcast advertising becoming part of the political process,’

he added Sproat pointed out that Amnesty is allowed to advertise in the

print media and also present its views through editorial material.



Labour did not force a vote on the issue after the debate during the

bill’s committee stage. It hopes to raise the matter again when it

reaches its report stage.