Abortion Advertising ON TV – Replies In Parliament

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Abortion

Questions

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what information they have regarding the basis on which the decision was taken to allow for-profit organisations to advertise abortion services on television; what representations they have received since September 2011 about the advertising of abortion services on radio and television, and from whom; what powers they have to regulate, and to prevent, such advertising; and what products or services may not be advertised on radio or television.[HL15021]

Baroness Garden of Frognal: There has been no change in the rules allowing abortion advertising on television. The advertising rule changes recently announced relate to the provision of post-conception advice services.

The rules on the broadcast advertising of post-conception advice services are the responsibility of the advertising regulators, Ofcom, the Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice (BCAP) and the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA). These bodies are independent and they set the standards for all broadcast advertising. The Government had no role in making these changes.

BCAP recently undertook two public consultations on proposed changes to the rules relating to the broadcast advertising of post-conception advice services and Ofcom has approved these changes. BCAP has issued a regulatory statement setting out the results of its consultation and the reasoning behind its decision to amend the rules in the BCAP code. This can be found at the following website: http://www.cap.org.uk/Media-Centre/2012/New-ad-rules-on-unplanned-pregnancy-advice.aspx.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport has received 672 representations regarding the advertising of post conception advice services since September 2011. This includes 669 from the public and three from MPs (two on behalf of constituents).

The advertising regulators are independent of Government and they are responsible for setting the standards for all broadcast advertising. However, the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport has powers under the Communications Act to issue directions in relation to prohibiting categories of broadcast advertising in exceptional circumstances.

The broadcast advertising rules are based on the principle that advertising of legally permitted products or services should be permitted unless there exists clear evidence of the potential for harm or serious offence. However, a range of products and services are currently prohibited from being advertised under the BCAP code, either because they may not legally be advertised or because of a clear risk of harm or serious or widespread offence to the audience or to society. These include, but are not limited to: all tobacco

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products; offensive weapons such as guns; prostitution and sexual massage services; obscene material; breath-testing devices and products that are intended to mask the effects of alcohol; and pyramid promotional schemes.

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

To ask Her Majesty’s Government who made the decision to permit for-profit organisations to advertise abortion services on radio and television; what assessment was made of any previous complaints about the advertising of abortion-related services on television and radio; whether the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport, other Ministers in his department, and officials in that department, were consulted; and, if so, what response they gave.[HL15022]

Baroness Garden of Frognal: There has been no change in the rules allowing abortion advertising on television. The advertising rule changes recently announced relate to the provision of post-conception advice services.

The rules on the broadcast advertising of post-conception advice services are the responsibility of the advertising regulators, Ofcom, the Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice (BCAP) and the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA). These bodies are independent and they set the standards for all broadcast advertising. The Government had no role in making these changes.

BCAP undertook two public consultations on proposed changes to these rules and has carefully considered all the responses it received both for and against its proposed changes. BCAP’s evaluation of these responses can be found at: http://www.cap.org.uk/CAP-and-BCAP-Consultations/Closed-consultations/BCAP-Consultation-on-PCAS.aspx.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport did not formally respond to the consultations.

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they have the power to review advertisements for abortion services by for-profit organisations before they are broadcast; if they do, what use they intend to make of that power; and, if not, whether they will bring forward legislation to confer that power.[HL15023]

Baroness Garden of Frognal: The Government have no powers to review advertisements before they are broadcast and have no plans to introduce additional legislation in this area.

There has been no change in the rules allowing abortion advertising on television. The advertising rule changes recently announced relate to the provision of post-conception advice services.

The rules on the broadcast advertising of post-conception advice services are the responsibility of the advertising regulators, Ofcom, the Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice (BCAP) and the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA). These bodies are independent of Government and they set the standards for all broadcast advertising. The Government had no role in making these changes.

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It is a condition of their broadcast licence with Ofcom that commercial TV channels and radio stations are responsible for ensuring that the advertisements they carry comply with the strict rules in the BCAP code. Broadcasters do this though the use of pre-broadcast clearance systems. Clearcast, a body set up by broadcasters, is responsible for pre-clearing television ads and the Radio Advertising Clearance Centre (RACC) is responsible for pre-clearing radio ads. However, pre-cleared ads can still be investigated and banned by the ASA if, following initial pre-clearance, complaints are received.

 

 

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