Advertisers face threat from expanding BBC and communications bill says report

LONDON - The new communications bill, the aggressive expansion of the BBC and calls for increasing restrictions on advertising are just some of the 10 most pressing issues facing the advertising industry in the coming year, according to ISBA.

In its annual report 'One Voice', published today, ISBA argues that the government's new communications bill and the creation of the single regulator Ofcom will lead to a fundamental change in how advertising is regulated.

The body argues that no company should be allowed to own more than 25% in any single commercial medium.

ISBA also cites the growing force of the BBC and its expanding portfolio of programming and digital properties as a key concern for the advertising industry. "ISBA expressed concern at plans to launch four new BBC digital channels last year and continues to lobby against BBC expansion at the expense of the commercial sector," the report said.

Another key concern for the industry is the threat posed to the freedom of advertisers, according to ISBA. The industry body warns that increasing concerns about advertising to children, high performance car advertising, the promotion of financial services and food marketing threatens related sectors of the advertising industry.

Further calls across both the UK and Europe for further restrictions on advertising and marketing to children will keep the issue on the agenda over the coming year.

ISBA is also keeping a watchful eye on the development of EU fair-trading laws, which it argues will have a negative impact on the UK advertising industry. A single wide-ranging EU law to ban "unfair" marketing has been proposed, but ISBA argues that a new framework is unnecessary and disagreement will arise over certain types of sales promotion.

"The proposals could be used to define practices, such as promotion of alcohol or certain types of sales promotion that we accept in the UK, as 'unfair' across Europe," the report said.

Other problems in the pipeline for the ad industry include the increasing competition in the postal mail market and the price implications for direct marketers. ISBA also said that a question mark hangs over the future of self-regulation, which is coming under increasing pressure due to the rise of "co-regulation" in Europe.

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