NEWS: Tories call for Rodgers to quit ASA

Tory MPs have called for the resignation of Lord Rodgers, the chairman of the Advertising Standards Authority, in a dramatic escalation of the row over the ASA’s recent rulings on political ads.

Tory MPs have called for the resignation of Lord Rodgers, the chairman

of the Advertising Standards Authority, in a dramatic escalation of the

row over the ASA’s recent rulings on political ads.



The call, which was made publicly by Michael Fabricant, the deputy

chairman of the party’s back-bench media committee, follows a speech by

Rodgers at a fringe meeting during the Liberal Democrats’ conference at

Brighton this week. Rodgers, a Lib Dem peer, urged people to vote

Labour, if necessary, in a tactical bid to oust the Tories at the

general election.



Tory bosses, already furious with the ASA after three recent rulings

against the party, accused Rodgers of political bias. Fabricant said:

‘By announcing his political bias, Bill Rodgers has put the ASA’s

rulings in grave doubt. For the sake of the ASA’s future credibility,

Bill Rodgers and the ASA should consider whether he is suitable

to continue as chairman.’



In the past month, the ASA has ordered the Tories not to re-run the ad

showing Tony Blair with ‘demon eyes’ but rejected counter-complaints

from a local Tory activist about the Labour campaign accusing the

Conservatives of telling lies.



The ASA dismissed the Tory attack. Caroline Crawford, the communications

director, said: ‘Lord Rodgers’ role as a Lib Dem peer is completely

separate from his role as ASA chairman. It is an apolitical role. It is

crucial we are seen to be independent of government and the political

parties as well as from the industry.’



The controversy comes in the same week that Rodgers called a ‘clear the

air’ meeting of advertising trade bodies in an attempt to stem the

rising tide of criticism of the watchdog body.



It was decided to re-examine the ASA’s rules on political advertising as

part of the next review of the advertising code of practice.



Live issue, p12



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