Before it is engulfed by Ofcom, the ITC has proposed what will probably be its swan song new issue of the TV advertising code. Will it mean major rule changes or just a cosmetic makeover?
Who: The Independent Television Commission (“ITC”)
When: January 2002
Following its previously announced review of its Code Of Advertising Standards And Practice, the ITC has published its proposed new TV Advertising Code for final comment, by 28 March 2002, before the revised Code is finalised and brought into force. The aim of the review, announced Ian Blair, ITC deputy director of programmes and advertising, was to create a more user-friendly code. Sporting a new, snappier title of "ITC Advertising Standards Code", the new version adopts a new style. It groups together rules according to their intent wherever possible. For instance rules in relation to misleadingness are in one section. It also deploys explanatory notes in boxes adjacent to the relevant rule.
These provide interpretation, highlight best practice and warn of common pitfalls. Another promised innovation is a comprehensive index, in addition to the existing contents page. Overall, the objective is to make the code clearer and easier to use and remove unnecessary and outdated restrictions.
Why This Matters:
All the indications from the proposals so far are that more user-friendly format aside, the content of the rules is not going to change spectacularly. So much is suggested by the removal of the explicit ban on parodies of TV programmes, but only because the ITC is satisfied that the existing provisions prohibiting advertising which create a risk of viewer confusion between programming and advertising should adequately deal with the problem. Similarly the only material amendment to the provisions dealing with ads on political or controversial issues is to prohibit campaigns intended to change not only legislation in the UK, but now, the laws of other countries also.