Advertising Standards Authority

Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport written question – answered on 5th November 2019.

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Photo of Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town Shadow Deputy Leader of the House of Lords

To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have held with the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) over its role in enforcing any judgment it makes; what consideration they have given to moving the ASA onto a statutory basis; and what research they have undertaken on the impact of the ASA on consumers, particularly in cases where complaints are upheld.

Photo of Baroness Barran Baroness Barran Baroness in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)

Advertising in the UK is regulated by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), which enforces the Advertising Codes through a system of self-regulation and co-regulation with Ofcom. This regulatory system is independent of government and is ultimately responsible for setting the standards in advertising.

The Advertising Codes incorporate all relevant legislation and set standards for accuracy and honesty to which advertisers must adhere, including specific conditions on advertising to children, causing offence and social responsibility. The Codes are regularly reviewed and updated by the industry to ensure they remain effective, and proposed changes to the Codes are routinely subject to public consultation.

UK broadcasters are required by a condition of their broadcast licences to enforce ASA rulings, and any who refuse to comply with these rulings risk being referred to Ofcom, which can impose fines and even withdraw broadcast licences. In non-broadcast media, the ASA has a range of sanctions it can take in cases of non-compliance, and as a last resort can refer advertisers to Trading Standards, where there has been a breach of consumer law.

That said, we recognise that online advertising presents a number of unique challenges, which is why we announced a review earlier this year, which will consider this system in the round.

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