BCAP Code Review consultation - Executive summary
In 2004, the Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice (BCAP) and the broadcast arm of the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) assumed responsibility for the day-to-day regulation of broadcast advertisements. The office of communications (Ofcom) entrusted BCAP and the ASA with that responsibility in recognition of CAP and the ASA’s successful regulation of non-broadcast advertisements for over 40 years and in line with better regulation principles.
BCAP is responsible for maintaining the broadcast advertising standards codes, which include rules on the content and scheduling of broadcast advertisements. The present television and radio advertising standards Codes were last reviewed in their entirety over six years ago; the television Codes in 2002 and the radio code in 2000. The Codes have changed since then in response to changes in society but they are otherwise unchanged from those published by the Independent Television Commission and the Radio Authority.
BCAP considers it is timely to conduct a major review of the broadcast Advertising Standards Codes to ensure the rules for broadcast advertisements are up to date and fit for purpose.
BCAP’s general policy objective is to create a Code based on the enduring principles that advertising should not mislead, offend or harm. A Code that adequately protects children and others whose circumstances seem to BCAP to put them in need of special protection, yet retains an environment in which responsible broadcast advertising can flourish. BCAP intends its rules to be transparent, accountable, proportionate, consistent, targeted only where regulation is needed and written so they are easily understood, easily implemented and easily enforced.
BCAP proposes to add to, delete, replace or amend existing rules in line with its general policy objectives. But proposed changes to the existing Codes are the exception and not the norm; most of BCAP’s proposed Code includes standards established in the existing Codes, which have stood the test of time and continue to offer necessary protection for the public and a level playing field for the broadcast advertising industry.
As digital broadcast media converge, it is important, where justified, to have greater consistency in the setting of standards for broadcast advertisements. BCAP therefore proposes a single, user-friendly Code covering TV and radio advertisements for the benefit of the public and the broadcast advertising industry. The interpretation of the Code will continue to take into account the particular characteristics of TV and radio and other contextual factors that determine whether a broadcast advertisement complies with the Code.
In its pre-consultation review of the present codes, BCAP has held informal talks with people and organisations to fill gaps in its understanding and to gauge whether it is thinking in the right direction. BCAP has sought advice on its proposed Code changes from an expert consumer panel, the Advertising Advisory Committee (AAC).
BCAP has directly invited responses to this consultation from a wide cross-section of society and undertakes to look at each response carefully and with an open mind. BCAP intends to respond to all significant comments in its post-consultation evaluation of responses, which BCAP will make available on the CAP website on publication of BCAP’s new Code.
The consultation will remain open for twelve weeks in line with regulatory best-practice guidelines and close at 5.00 pm on 19 June 2009.