Who: Rt Hon Dame Janet Paraskeva, the Advertising Standards Agency (“ASA”)

Where: UK

When: 7 April 2017

Law stated as at: 3 May 2017

What happened:

On 7 April 2017, Dame Janet Paraskeva published her independent audit of the ASA’s performance against its Commitment to Good Regulation (CTGR) and the ASA issued its preliminary response

The CTGR includes the following principles:

  • we’ll keep regulatory burdens to a minimum;
  • we’ll engage with you;
  • we’ll be targeted;
  • we’ll share information; and
  • we’ll be transparent.”

The CTGR is based on the requirements of the statutory Regulators’ Code. In the report, Dame Paraskeva stated that there was resistance within the industry to moving away from self-regulation and, on the whole, the ASA was committed to ensuring that adverts are not misleading, harmful or offensive.

The report concluded that the ASA meets its commitments and broadly either meets or exceeds the CTGR. Dame Paraskeva concluded that the ASA is “fit for purpose and with a few improvements will maintain the confidence of those who complain … It also has the continued support of the advertising industry, which funds it at arm’s length.

However, the report also made some recommendations for the ASA to improve its process, enhance information sharing and further engage with industry at the business compliance representative level.

In particular, concerns were raised by business compliance representatives that the complaints process had slowed down and that there was a lack of specialist expertise within the executive.

Dame Paraskeva also stated that it may be beneficial to share more information about the complaints process with stakeholders. For example the ASA could indicate where guidance and information could be found and Dame Paraskeva also considered that, although the ASA has a good website, it has not ensured that the information contained within the site has reached all parts of the business community.

Other related suggestions were to make the process more transparent and, in particular, to open up the Council meetings to members of the business community.

Why does this matter:

The ASA will publish its final response to the audit in the autumn, explaining how it has responded, or proposes to respond, to each of the recommendations made by Dame Paraskeva.

Although none of the recommendations in the report suggest wholesale changes to the working of the ASA, it seems likely that it will implement some new measures to increase both transparency and engagement with those in the business community.