ASA braced for pro-life protest

The Advertising Standards Authority is bracing itself for an eight-hour demonstration by anti-abortion campaigners as its consultation on changes to the advertising code of practice draws to a close.

The planned all-day protest outside the ASA London offices on Friday (19 June) is the culmination of a well-orchestrated campaign by the pro-life lobby over proposals to change the rules on sexual health TV advertising rules.

The ASA’s sister organisation Committee for Advertising Practice public consultation on its “root and branch” review of the advertising codes covering all media is due to be completed at the end of this week.

Proposals to allow family planning or pregnancy advice services to broadcast ads on TV after the 9pm watershed have been the subject of an organised and sustained campaign by anti-abortion lobby groups, according to the ASA.

It says it has received a large volume of correspondence from supporters of groups such as the Society for the Protection of the Unborn Child (SPUC), who have heavily leafleted sympathetic individuals and groups such as Catholic church organisations, which it has passed to CAP

The SPUC says that the rules will lead to “abortion adverts invading our homes”.

However, CAP has insisted the rules will allow promotion of “a full range of services available to pregnant women”.

The organisation is expected to publish its final revised codes in the autumn following consideration of responses received over the consultation period, which began in March.

Other proposed changes include stricter rules governing claims by brands that they are environmentally friendly and a ban on TV advertising of games aimed at adults before 9pm.

The review is the first time the codes have been reviewed as a whole. The non-broadcast code was last reviewed in 1995, the TV code was examined in 2002, while the radio code was reviewed a year earlier in 2001.

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