The Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) has sent out letters to
all the main political parties offering them their say in whether the
Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) polices future political
The move follows the row last year in which the Tory Party used Tony
Blair’s image in its Demon Eyes campaign and was censured by the
Now the ASA is investigating whether political ads should fall under its
Under the current rules, political advertising is regulated by the ASA
for matters of taste and decency, and the privacy of individuals. But
rules on honesty and truthful presentation do not apply in the same way
that they do for companies.
Many in the industry have expressed dissatisfaction with this half-way
house option and feel the ASA has been unable to handle complaints fast
enough in an election situation.
Two possible options include setting up a separate regulatory body for
political advertising or making it compulsory for political ads to take
copy advice before publication.
An ASA spokesman said: ’It is not for the ASA to decide what the general
public will decide in an election. Political advertisers should come
fully within the codes or not at all.’
It is thought that none of the parties have responded to the CAP. The
length of time it takes to make a decision will depend on whether there
is consensus or not, but the CAP wants its codes to be amended in early
The problem has revolved around the ASA determining if a party is
telling the truth or not - as it does with other advertising.
Andrew Brown, director-general of the Advertising Association and a
member of the CAP committee, said: ’It is important for the advertising
industry to ensure that the general public knows if (political) ads are
governed by a code or not. It is not satisfactory if people think they
are part of a code when in fact only parts of them are.’