Charities such as Amnesty International could be allowed to advertise on
television if an amendment to the Broadcasting Bill, currently under
debate in Parliament, is passed.
Barry Field, the Tory MP for the Isle of Wight, has tabled the
amendment, which would relax the Independent Television Commission’s
code of practice for ads by voluntary organisations.
Field’s main aim is to enable voluntary groups to run one-off campaigns
on regional TV. At present, they are barred unless they are registered
His move could also boost groups such as Amnesty, which want to run
high-profile nationwide campaigns. It has been restricted by rules that
allow it to make its case in newspapers and posters but not on the TV or
Although the Charities Act allows charities to take part in political
activity, the 1990 Broadcasting Act outlaws any ad ‘directed towards any
political end’. The ITC and Radio Authority codes prohibit issue
campaigns aimed at influencing legislation or the government.
Voluntary groups claim the law ‘is a complete mess’ and have welcomed
the prospect of a debate on the issue when the Broadcasting Bill reaches
its report stage.
Field said he would be pleased if groups such as Amnesty were helped by
his proposal. ‘It is a grey area of the law,’ he added. ‘This is a good
deregulatory measure. There have been liberalising moves to allow more
advertising, but some of the prohibitions are rather odd and old-
fashioned by modern standards.’
He said his amendment to the 1990 Broadcasting Act would not allow
political parties to exploit the new rules.