Most political advertising will be exempt from the industry’s code
under proposals expected to be approved by the Committee of Advertising
Practice next Wednesday (25 November).
A new draft code says that ads which are designed mainly to influence
how people vote should no longer be policed by the Advertising Standards
Authority. Instead, they should be covered by new rules to be agreed by
the political parties.
Non-controversial party ads - such as those aimed at recruiting members
or raising funds - and those by pressure groups would still be covered
by the industry’s code.
But with most political ads concentrated in election periods, the
majority would come under a separate political code and could no longer
be the subject of an ASA complaint. Campaigns by trade unions or other
organisations during an election would also fall under the new rules,
which could be supervised by an independent Electoral Commission.
There has been growing frustration in the industry about the present
’halfway house’ in which the parties are covered by the code but do not
have to prove their claims like other advertisers.
CAP has seized the opportunity handed to it by an inquiry into party
funding by Lord Neill’s committee on standards in public life, which
urged the parties to draw up new rules for ad campaigns.
John Hooper, the chairman of CAP, had consulted all its members about
the proposed change. ’It is a very positive move; we are certainly keen
to follow up the suggestion by the Neill committee,’ he said.
Although the CAP will help parties to draw up a code, its initiative may
anger politicians who now face the task of agreeing rules governing
their most controversial ads.