ADVERTISING & PROMOTION: CAP call to politicians

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 advertising.

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

advertising.



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

ASA.



Now the ASA is investigating whether political ads should fall under its

auspices.



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

1998.



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.’



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