Ofcom invites comments on extending the remit of the AAC to include advice on both broadcasting and non-broadcasting issues to better serve consumer interests.

Since its establishment in 2004, the AAC has provided and is providing an independent consumer voice for transparency and accountability on the co-regulatory system for broadcast advertising. The co-regulatory bodies overseen by Ofcom are the Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice (BCAP) and the Advertising Standards Authority (Broadcast) (ASA(B)).

Ofcom and the co-regulatory bodies have provisionally agreed changes to the scope of the AAC to allow the AAC to advise on advertising more widely. Ofcom agrees that providing a consumer outlook that takes into account all media as opposed to broadcasting alone will better serve consumer interests. The increase in issues from the ever-merging of broadcasting and non-broadcasting advertising has prompted this discussion.

Governing the relationship between Ofcom and the AAC is the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). In order to extend the remit of the AAC, the MoU will need to be amended. Ofcom has ensured that it and the AAC's core principles regarding consumer interests will remain. The following changes have been proposed by the MoU:

  • removal of the requirement for research to be made available to the AAC through BCAP but with assurances that the ASA(B) and BCAP will continue to do such research in any event, thus allowing the AAC to receive both broadcasting and non-broadcasting research material going forward;
  • removal of the cap on the number of independent expert members at the AAC, to allow for the expansion of such experts to reflect the AAC's new wider remit;
  • removal of any Ofcom influence over the selection of AAC experts (since these experts may now consider issues beyond Ofcom's remit) but allowing Ofcom to be informed of new appointments after they are made;
  • removal of Ofcom's observer status at AAC meetings and instead, providing minutes of those meetings to Ofcom regarding only business that sits within Ofcom's remit; and
  • broadening the AAC's commitment to bias against intervention beyond Ofcom duties.

Ofcom are now consulting on the proposal and inviting responses on the above amendments by 5pm on 8 August 2019.

AG Comment

We encourage businesses to respond to the proposal here. Any extension is likely to have an impact on both broadcasting and non-broadcasting advertisements.

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