OPINION: BACC needs resources, not knee-jerk criticisms

In calling for the Broadcast Advertising Clearance Centre to be overhauled, Robert Campbell, the joint creative director of Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R, is publicly articulating the long-running private moans of agency creatives about the TV watchdog.

In calling for the Broadcast Advertising Clearance Centre to be

overhauled, Robert Campbell, the joint creative director of Rainey Kelly

Campbell Roalfe/Y&R, is publicly articulating the long-running private

moans of agency creatives about the TV watchdog.



Its alleged over-use of the blunt instrument in matters of taste and

decency has been the subject of countless debates in agency bars.



But the fact that a senior figure such as Campbell should have chosen

the TV 2000 conference in Lisbon to air his concerns is indicative of

the widespread disquiet about the BACC’s ability to do its job.



Of course, the relationship between the ad industry and the BACC will

always be adversorial. Creatives want to sail as close to the wind as

possible while the BACC is pulled every which way in its role as

gatekeeper for the most intrusive of advertising mediums.



To accuse it of being out of date and out of touch is a knee-jerk

reaction from creative directors who have just had scripts turned down.

It is equally easy and crass to claim that the BACC will not permit

advertisers the freedom allowed to programme makers.



Actually, it’s quite right to do so. Advertisers sell things and must be

denied some of the tools that dramatists, news reporters and documentary

producers need to make their points. Moreover, the BACC has a duty to

protect viewers, head off a hard core of ’professional’ complainers and

ensure that the playing field is level.



But Campbell has a point. The BACC needs extra resources to cope with

media fragmentation and the internet. And there is sufficient evidence

of bizarre and inconsistent rulings to suggest that it should be more in

tune with social mores.



Most creatives acknowledge that when the BACC has time to make a ruling,

its decisions are sensible. Unfortunately, when big TV agencies may need

clearance on up to 1,000 possible scripts a year, time is at a premium

and the temptation to be over-cautious is overwhelming.



The BACC is being swamped with work needing ever-faster response times.

It has to attract more staff who are not only high quality but well

motivated. That means money, something that TV companies are not short

of. And what about the BACC charging for every script submitted?



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