ASA adds regulation of broacast advertising to its remit

LONDON - The Advertising Standards Authority is to take over regulation for broadcast advertising under a new system announced today by media watchdog Ofcom.

Up until now, the ASA has had responsibility for the self-regulation of non-broadcast advertising including newspapers, magazines, posters, cinema, internet ads, text messaging and direct mail.

The new system includes the establishment of an Advertising Advisory Committee, which will be independently chaired to provide expert input to the broadcast code-making body, the Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice.

Ofcom has also declared that as a last resort, it will be able to insist on changes being made to broadcast advertising and have the right of veto on any proposed changes.

The superbody, headed by Stephen Carter, stated today that there would be greater clarity on what advertising regulation functions will be contracted out and which will remain with Ofcom.

In a statement Ofcom said: "Ofcom will monitor the effectiveness of the new system carefully to ensure that the interests of consumers are properly protected. Ofcom will retain backstop powers over the new system and could re-impose direct statutory control if necessary. It will also retain the ability to amend the broadcast advertising Codes, in exceptional circumstances."

Ofcom said it will continue to be responsible for other elements of broadcast advertising regulation, such as the rules relating to the prevention of political advertising, the amount of advertising that can be shown on TV, and sponsorship regulation. There will be no change to Ofcom's role in regulating TV and radio programmes and licensing the broadcasters.

The move was welcomed by the Insitute of Practitioners in Advertising. The body's director general Hamish Pringle said: "This is a far-sighted decision by Ofcom. It takes into account consumer needs, media convergence and rapid social change, all of which require a faster, more flexible and more sensitive response than legislation can possible provide."

Ofcom's decision paper on 'The Future Regulation of Broadcast Advertising' is being published today and will be available on their - website

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