UK Advertising Regulations Can Threaten Freedom of Speech: Report

A new study by a UK free market think tank warns that restrictions on advertising are increasing, affecting freedom of speech in advertising.

Authorities report that widespread restrictions on advertising by regulators can lead to pressure to apply the same to certain types of expressions and images in art, entertainment and politics. Institute of Economic Research (IEA) Released last week.

The report expresses concern that regulators are trying to restructure their cultural and social attitudes towards gender, family and ethnic issues. Many of these regulations are in place by the UK’s independent Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

Previously interested in “legal, honest and sincere” advertising, the ASA “turned into a broader endeavor to change people’s mindset,” the report said.

Professor Ren Shackleton, the author of the report, said: NTD News About ASA rules.

“That is, my treatise documents some of these excuses and raises questions such as why these restrictions are so high that they have nothing to do with the actual harm, but they are regulators. Is the way we want us to think about things, and I think it’s rather harmful. “

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In an online interview on June 2, 2021, Professor Ren Shackleton, editor and researcher at the Institute of Economics and professor of economics at the University of Buckingham, told NTD News (screenshot / NTD).

He gave some examples of ASA’s policy on how men and women are portrayed. People can no longer create “joke ads” that “men make fun of themselves in the washing machine” and “women could only express themselves in certain ways.”

He says many ads are rejected for what he calls “a false reason.”

The report states that ASA’s interpretation of “crime” and “harm” appears to be different from other regulators such as Ofcom. As a result, creative expressions that are allowed on TV, movies, YouTube, and newspapers are effectively prohibited in advertising. It is usually based on a small number of complaints.

The report considers advertising to be a “commercial speech” and is a form of communication that impacts the economy and society, so there must be a clear reason to limit advertising.

Professor Shackleton states that Congress has not discussed the restrictions approved by the ASA.

Last year, ASA suggested that political advertising should be regulated in the form of a manifest. Shackleton states that this will be a “very worrying development.”

“But it’s ASA-approved. That’s the ASA way of thinking. We regulate what you can see and hear,” he added.

The Office of Advertising Standards responded to NTD News in an e-mail statement, “As a self-regulatory agency and to broadcast co-regulatory agencies with Ofcom, we work with governments, public agencies, statutory agencies, advertisers and the media. Please work closely and make sure your ads follow our rules. “

“Our efforts to ensure that consumers are not misunderstood, harmed or offended by advertising, while maintaining fair competitive conditions between companies, builds consumer confidence in advertising. Helps maintain. “

According to an IEA report, the UK will spend more than £ 22 billion on advertising in 2019, making the industry the second largest exporter in the country, generating £ 8 billion in exports. It provides one-third of television revenue and two-thirds of news revenue and sponsors numerous social, cultural and sports institutions.

NTD reporter Neil Woodrow contributed to this report.

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