Escort agencies and religious organisations could soon be
advertising on TV if the Independent Television Commission’s proposals
to relax advertising restrictions on a host of contentious subjects get
The ITC this week launched a wide-ranging review of its advertising
First under the spotlight is a reassessment of all specific prohibitions
set out in its current Code of Advertising Standards and Practice.
These include restrictions on the advertising of such goods and services
as pregnancy testing kits, breath-testing devices, products designed to
treat alcoholism and psychiatric services.
Most controversially, however, the rules prohibiting the advertising of
escort agencies and religious groups will also come under review.
In addition to opening up TV advertising to such companies, the ITC is
also proposing a relaxation of rules which prevent newsreaders appearing
in ads, religious fund-raising via TV ads and the advertising of
Plans to relax current restrictions on the timing of TV ads aimed at
children will also be discussed.
The proposals come as part of a new spirit of lighter-touch regulation
at the ITC, under the auspices of its director of advertising and
sponsorship, Stephen Locke. Locke explained: ’We are not proposing
wholesale deregulation, but the right level of regulation to reflect the
greater awareness of the consumer and the changing broadcast
marketplace.’ He stressed that viewer protection would remain a primary
The proposals have been welcomed by the IPA. Jim Marshall, the chief
executive of MediaVest and the IPA’s spokesperson on broadcast issues,
said that the plans made a lot of sense.
He said: ’There’s a big disconnect right now between what you can show
in TV programmes and what you can show in ads and these proposals will
help address that. These new ads will have to be carefully vetted by the
broadcasters but I suspect the TV companies will be very cautious about
what the ads show.’