Threats of an ASA hijacking are untrue

Three cheers for British Gas Trading’s Jon Kinsey, who is quoted in your Cover Story ASA (“Cause for concern” MW August 27) as saying: “We have used the ASA on many occasions over the past year to ensure the customer is not fed bum information and doesn’t act on bum information.”

You then go on to paraphrase him – the only industry person who was interviewed for the story – saying, “but he denies the ASA has been used as a battleground”.

How curious then that the sub-heading states that the ASA is an arena in which rival interests do battle and the final paragraph says we are open to “hijacking” by pressure groups and might be seen as a vehicle for competing companies to criticise rival ads.

Yes, approximately ten per cent of the complaints we receive are from companies complaining about their rivals’ advertisements. But does this really matter? If an advertisement is misleading, it is misleading no matter who complains. It is more important to consider those who have been affected and making sure the advertisement is changed so they are not adversely affected again.

The fact that the ASA upholds just over ten per cent of complaints doesn’t mean that all of the remaining complainants are “dissatisfied” – some of them are wrong, others are reassured.

Battleground, no. An organisation to protect the public from “bum information”, yes. And, as anyone who regularly reads our adjudications will know, we haven’t been hijacked yet.

Matti Alderson

Director general


London WC1

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