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Subscriptions: Misrepresentation

Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport written question – answered on 22nd October 2019.

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Photo of Alex Chalk Alex Chalk Conservative, Cheltenham

To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps the Government is taking with the Advertising Standards Authority to ensure subscription services do not mislead consumers into signing up for their services when they make a purchase through a website.

Photo of Nigel Adams Nigel Adams Minister of State

Advertising in the UK is regulated by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), which enforces the Code of Non-broadcast Advertising and Direct & Promotional Marketing (CAP Code) in non-broadcast media, including online, print, outdoors, video-on-demand, direct marketing and cinema, through a system of self-regulation.

The CAP Code incorporates all relevant legislation, and sets standards for accuracy and honesty to which advertisers must adhere, including specific conditions on advertising to children, causing offence and social responsibility. It is regularly reviewed and updated by the industry to ensure it remains effective, and proposed changes to the Code are routinely subject to public consultation.

The Code includes rules designed to ensure that advertisers do not mislead consumers, reflecting that the ASA is recognised by the government, the courts and Trading Standards as the ‘established means’ for the enforcement of misleading advertising legislation. On the specific issue of subscription traps, the Code also includes rules designed to ensure that advertising for promotions must state all significant conditions likely to affect a consumer’s decision to participate in the promotion. The ASA has also published guidance to advertisers on how to ensure that advertising of free trials and other promotional offer subscription models are compliant with the Code.

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