Ad bodies aim to curb high-profile role of ASA

Leaders of Britain’s advertising industry are planning to seize control of the self-regulatory system and cut back the influential role of the Advertising Standards Authority.

Leaders of Britain’s advertising industry are planning to seize

control of the self-regulatory system and cut back the influential role

of the Advertising Standards Authority.



They want the power to revert to a strengthened Advertising Standards

Board of Finance, the ASA’s paymaster, whose executive director would

become the industry’s mouthpiece.



Andrew Brown, the Advertising Association’s director-general, along with

Nick Phillips and John Hooper, his counterparts at the Institute of

Practitioners in Advertising and the Incorporated Society of British

Advertisers, are behind the idea that could be implemented before the

end of the year.



It follows growing concern within industry trade organisations that the

ASA’s power and influence has been allowed to extend well beyond its

original remit as a regulatory body.



While ASBOF and the Committee of Advertising Practice, which sets the

advertising rules, are virtually anonymous, the ASA has moved

increasingly into the spotlight. It has access to Government ministers

and is usually turned to by journalists and broadcasters as the

industry’s representative.



Now industry chiefs claim the time has come to re-establish their

authority over the self-regulatory system in the face of potential

threats from the British Government and also from Brussels.



The result would be that the ASA returns to the role originally intended

for it as the enforcer of the CAP’s codes.



’The problem is one of branding,’ an industry insider explained. ’While

the CAP will never be taken seriously because of its name, the ASA has a

sexy title. So it’s hardly surprising that this is the body the

Government wants to talk to.’



Hooper insisted the move implied no criticism of the ASA. ’It has done a

sterling job filling the vacuum we’ve created,’ he said. ’But we feel

the time has come to restore the balance. The ASA may be the bull

terrier - but we hold its lead.’



Caroline Crawford, the ASA’s communications director, said: ’This is a

matter for the industry to discuss. But we have never tried to reflect

an industry-wide view.’



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