Who: The House of Lords Select Committee on Communications
When: 7 September 2017
On 7 September 2017, the House of Lords Select Committee on Communications announced that it is going to conduct an enquiry into the UK advertising industry. It first invited interested parties to submit written evidence, by 20 October 2017. This will be followed by oral evidence being given by witnesses until December. The Select Committee will then put together a report, which the Government will respond to.
The report will look at how the advertising industry in the UK is adapting to the shift to digital media advertising and whether the UK has the correct policies and practices in place to continue to support the advertising industry. The Select Committee has announced that the inquiry will focus on the following areas:
- the skillsets and development of skills needed to sustain the industry;
- the UK’s access to international talent;
- whether creative and business clusters contribute to the industry’s success and, if so, whether there is a role for the Government in supporting this; and
- how the industry can adapt in the face of increasing digital advertising.
When looking at digital advertising, in particular, the Select Committee has asked respondents to comment on whether there is any role for the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) or other regulators in relation to digital advertising.
Why this matters:
It is interesting that the Select Committee is choosing to look at regulation of digital advertising in this way and specifically call out the effectiveness of the ASA. The ASA has just released its complaints figures for the first half of 2017, which again show online ads as being the second most-complained about advertising medium, only very shortly behind TV. Clearly there is a role for regulators in relation to digital advertising, and it is surprising the House of Lords paper does not acknowledge the extensive work already being done by the ASA.
This will be an interesting report to watch out for, especially in terms of recommendations that may be made as to how regulation could adapt to this changing market and whether there is interest in statutory control.