Lobby groups Which? and Sustain have snubbed industry body the Advertising Association (AA) after they refused to participate in a debate organised by the AA about self-regulation of digital media.
The British Heart Foundation, National Consumer Council and left-wing pressure group Compass were also among a number of high-profile campaigning groups that failed to participate in the House of Commons debate.
AA chief executive Peta Buscombe says: “It is disappointing that the key critics of the successful advertising self-regulatory system did not take part in this vital debate. Their failure to participate can only hinder progress on this vital issue.”
The debate, held earlier this week, was chaired by John Whittingdale MP, chairman of the select committee on Culture, Media and Sport.
Proposing the motion that “Legislation cannot secure high standards in commercial communications online”, Kip Meek, md of Ingenious Media, and Nick Stringer, head of regulatory affairs at the Internet Advertising Bureau, argued that self-regulation offered the robust and flexible framework required for a creative industry.
Opposing the motion Dr Ian Brown, research fellow at Oxford University’s Internet Institute, and John Carr, director of corporate relations at NetIDme, argued that it was the threat of regulation which ensured self-regulation maintained high standards.
Richard Watts at Sustain says he had a “prior engagement” and that he is “not scared to take on the AA on this issue.” A Which? spokeswoman says: “Unfortunately, our key representatives on regulatory matters were unavailable at that time but no doubt there will be other opportunities to debate this issue in the future.”