Ad watchdog backs self-regulation on alcohol marketing

06 November, 2014

The chief executive of the Advertising Standards Authority has told an influential parliamentary committee that self-regulation offers better hope than legislation in tackling rogue online marketing activity on alcohol.

Guy Parker said during a hearing of the House of Lords home affairs, health and education committee that self-regulation is “particularly suited to responding quickly to an upheaval in the media landscape”.

He added: “The speed of evolution and revolution and of technological development argues for more rather than less self-regulation.”

The Advertising Standards Authority has included regulation of the digital world in its rules since 2011 and Parker said complaints about online advertising activity – including brands’ own websites and blogs that blurred the boundaries between editorial and advertising – now accounted 40% of its work.

Parker told the committee that all 22 countries within the EU which have an ASA or equivalent body now had advertising codes that cover online activity, compared with just two in 2008.

He was speaking at a session of the committee’s inquiry into a forthcoming new EU alcohol strategy.

He told the committee that the UK had one of the most robust code to regulate overall alcohol advertising in Europe.

“We’ve got one of the strictest regimes where there aren’t absolute bans on advertising,” Parker said.

“We’ve got a very good reputation for administering the code strongly. A few companies would say we administer it too strongly.”

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