The Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland calls for the new media commission to take account of non-statutory complaints mechanisms at pre-legislative scrutiny of theOnline Safety and Media Regulation Bill

The Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland (ASAI), the independent self-regulatory body committed to promoting the highest standards of marketing communications in Ireland, attended the Joint Committee on Tourism, Culture, Arts, Sport and Media, on Wednesday 2nd June, to discuss the Online Safety and Media Regulation Bill.

While ASAI recognizes and supports that the new media commission will oversee the new regulatory framework for online platforms based in Ireland, the self-regulatory body believe no one regulator could apply an effective complaints mechanism. 

The scale of advertising across the European Union is such that no single advertising regulator could operate an effective complaints’ handling mechanism. An additional complexity is that advertising in individual countries will be in the language of that country. EU citizens currently can have their complaints addressed by their local advertising self-regulatory body, in their own language. 

ASAI, the recognised advertising regulator with 40 years’ experience, covers advertising that appears on radio, linear and non-linear broadcast, digital (web, social, mobile, in-game ads, influencer marketing (user-generated commercial content), vlogs and blogs, etc.) as well as print, outdoor, direct mail, SMS and cinema.

The ASAI works with the European Advertising Standards Alliance (EASA) to develop and maintain high advertising standards across Europe and are engaged with the network’s support of the implementation of the Audiovisual Media Services Directive and the continuing involvement of its complaints handling for individual EU citizens (the ASAI has handled over 37,500 complaints in the domestic market alone). The ASAI has immense expertise and, as a contemporary regulator, has in-depth knowledge of relevant aspects and application of the AVMSD and the currently revised AVMSD.

In addition to this, since 2006, ASAI has proactively monitored 29,000 ads to date, and it will also be working with the EASA to develop tools for widescale monitoring of advertising content in the online space.

Speaking about their involvement with the pre-legislative scrutiny of the Online Safety and Media Regulation Bill, Orla Twomey, Chief Executive of the ASAI, commented:

“ASAI’s sectoral remit is very broad, covering most of the areas mentioned in the AVMSD, protection of minors, recognisability, human dignity, discriminatory content, health and safety, environmental concerns, control of alcohol advertising.  These are all addressed by the 18 sections of the ASAI Code, and more.

“We welcome that the Bill provides latitude for the Media Commission to enter into cooperation agreements with other bodies as it sees fit [Head 29] and, in furtherance of this collaborative approach, have a number of suggestions:

  • The AVMSD explicitly encourages the use of self-regulation, an area in which the ASAI is a subject matter expert.  We consider that the Bill should provide at Head 73 that the Committee not only provide assistance in setting up standards but also may cooperate with or give assistance to an existing self-regulatory system who apply standards in respect of audiovisual or audio content or related electronic media.
  • We also consider that, at Heads 13 and 50A, the Commission should be required to take account of established non-statutory mechanisms as part of the regulatory framework.
  • We further consider in relation to funding at Head 40, that legislation should provide for the Commission to direct funds to systems that it supports.

The Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland is financed by the advertising industry and committed, in the public interest, to promoting the highest standards of marketing communications that is advertising, promotional marketing and direct marketing. The objective is to ensure that all commercial marketing communications are ‘legal, decent, honest and truthful’.

The Code covers commercial marketing communications and sales promotions in all media in Ireland including digital web, social, mobile, in-game ads, influencer marketing (user-generated commercial content), print, outdoor, radio, TV, leaflets/brochures, SMS/MMS, cinema, and direct marketing.

Further information on advertising self-regulation, the ASAI and the operation

of the system is available at  www.asai.ie

Follow the ASAI on Twitter @THE_ASAI