Media Lifeline: The Radio Advertising Clearance Centre

The industry now accepts the body's work as a necessary evil

1996: Having received the blessing of the Radio Authority, the Radio Advertising Clearance Centre starts work on 1 July. Against a background of radio's increasing share of advertising spend, the industry wanted a faster, more user-friendly ad clearance service while maintaining a high level of consumer protection.

2002: The RACC takes over responsibility for clearing "special category" and national sponsorship tags. The industry had persuaded the Radio Authority to relax the sponsorship rules to allow advertising claims. In return, however, it wanted to pre-clear certain tags to ensure compliance with the rules.

2004: Ofcom contracts out advertising regulation to the industry. Complaint handling is now transferred to the Advertising Standards Authority. A new industry body, the Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice, on which broadcasters and advertisers including the RACC sit, now owns the Radio Code and will review and amend the rules periodically.

2005: The RACCs decision to ask for the removal of a "squish" sound effect in an ad promoting awareness of rectal examination and starring Ricky Gervais (pictured), gets an angry response. The RACC withdraws its advice and the ad wins the Aerial Award.

2006: The RACC celebrates its tenth anniversary. Advertising pre-clearance will always be regarded as a necessary evil but the body, which is now housed in the new Radio Centre alongside the Radio Advertising Bureau and Commercial Radio Companies Association, is now broadly accepted.

Fast forward ...

2008: Bowing to pressure from the Radio Centre chief executive, Andrew Harrison (pictured), the RACC persuades the regulators to completely relax the codes. Advertisers can now do anything in a radio ad, making the medium more attractive than the internet.