ITC launches review of advertising guidelines

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 go-ahead.

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 go-ahead.



The ITC this week launched a wide-ranging review of its advertising

rules.



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

top-shelf pornography.



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

concern.



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.’



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