ASA stays out of row over joining euro in test of new ad code

The Advertising Standards Authority has refused to become embroiled in the heated battle between supporters and opponents of Britain joining the single European currency.

The Advertising Standards Authority has refused to become embroiled

in the heated battle between supporters and opponents of Britain joining

the single European currency.



In the first test of the new rules that exempt political advertising

from the ad industry’s code of practice, the ASA’s council decided that

pro- and anti-euro ads were now outside its remit and could not

therefore rule on two complaints that they were misleading.



Christopher Graham, the ASA’s director-general, said: ’These

advertisements are early shots in a campaign for a referendum which

everybody knows will take place at some point. Election advertising is

now outside the authority’s remit. Pro- and anti-single currency

advertising should be treated no differently. It is now for the voters

to make their own assessment of rival political claims.’



Graham insisted the ASA’s refusal to intervene did not signal a

free-for-all for political lobbyists. He said the authority would

continue to rule on other public affairs campaigns.



The two complaints were over a poster by Britain in Europe, which warned

that three million jobs were at risk if Britain was ’cut off from

Europe’, and a national press ad by the rival Democracy Movement

depicting Tony Blair, Michael Heseltine and Kenneth Clarke, saying they

wanted to give up control of Britain’s economy by joining the euro.



The ASA decision means that ads about the single currency are in ’no

man’s land’ until the political parties reach agreement on a new body to

regulate political advertising.



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