Appendix 2

THE ADVERTISING OF MEDICINES AND TREATMENTS

(British Code of Standards, 4th edition: January 1958)

This Code has the support of the following organisations: The Newspaper Proprietors Association, The Newspaper Society, The Periodical Proprietors Association, The Proprietary Association of Great Britain, The London Poster Advertising Association, The Solus Outdoor Advertising Association, The Advertising Association, The Incorporated Society of British Advertisers, Institute of Practitioners in Advertising, The British Poster Advertising Association, The Screen Advertising Association, The Independent Television Companies. The Code has been adopted by the Advisory Committee of the Independent Television Authority set up under the Television Act, 1954, Section 8 (2) (b).

The Code has been drafted for the guidance of advertisers, manufacturers, distributors, advertising agencies, publishers and suppliers of various advertising media. The paragraphs are arranged and indexed for easy reference. It is important that they should be regarded as setting forth the minimum standards to be observed by the parties concerned.

The harm to the individual that may result from exaggerated, misleading or unwarranted claims justifies the adoption of a very high standard and the inclusion of considerable detail in a Code designed to guide those who are concerned with this form of advertising.

Newspapers and other advertising media are urged not to accept advertisements in respect of any product or treatment from any advertiser or advertising agency who disregards the provisions of this Code in any form of advertising or publicity relating to that product or treatment.

The advance of medical science may influence the view to be taken of the efficacy of medicines, products, appliances or treatments and, therefore, this Code will be subject to periodic review.

The provisions of this Code do not apply to an advertisement published by or under the authority of a Government Ministry or Department, nor to an advertisement published only in so far as is reasonably necessary to bring it to the notice of registered medical or dental practitioners, registered pharmacists or registered nurses.

Section I General Principles

1. Cure. No advertisement should contain a claim to cure any ailment or symptoms of ill-health, nor should an advertisement contain a word or expression used in such a form or context as to mean in the positive sense the extirpation of any ailment, illness or disease.

2. Illnesses, etc., properly requiring medical attention. No advertisement should contain any matter which can be regarded as an offer of a medicine or product for, or advice relating to the treatment of, serious diseases, complaints, conditions, indications or symptoms which should rightly receive the attention of a registered medical practitioner. (See also Sections II and III.)

3. Misleading or exaggerated claims. No advertisement should contain any matter which directly or by implication misleads or departs from the truth as to the composition, character or action of the medicine or treatment advertised or as to its suitability for the purpose for which it is recommended

4. Appeals to fear. No advertisement should be calculated to induce fear on the part of the reader that he is suffering, or may without treatment suffer, or suffer more severely, from an ailment, illness or disease.

5. Competitions. No advertisement should contain any prize competition or similar scheme. It should be noted that such advertisements may constitute an offence under Section 26 of the Betting and Lotteries Act, 1934.

6. Diagnosis or Treatment by Correspondence. No advertisement should offer to diagnose, by correspondence, diseases, conditions or any symptoms of ill-health in a human being; or request from any person a statement of his or any other person’s symptoms of ill-health with a view to advising as to or providing for treatment of such conditions of ill-health by correspondence. Nor should any advertisement offer to treat by correspondence any ailment, illness, disease, or symptoms thereof in a human being.

7. Disparaging References. No advertisement should directly or by implication, disparage the products, medicines or treatments of another advertiser or manufacturer, or registered medical practitioners or the medical profession.

8. Money-back offers. No advertisement should offer to refund money paid.

9. College, Clinic, Institute, Laboratory. No advertisement should contain these or similar terms unless an establishment corresponding with the description used does in fact exist.

10. Doctor, Hospitals, etc. No advertisement should contain any reference to doctors or hospitals, whether British or foreign, unless such reference can be substantiated by independent evidence and can properly be used in the manner proposed.

No advertisement should contain in the name of a product the term ‘Doctor’ or ‘Dr.’ unless the product were so named prior to 1st January, 1944.

11. Products offered particularly to women. No advertisement of products, medicines or treatments for disorders or irregularities peculiar to women should contain the following or similar expressions which may imply that the product, medicine or treatment advertised can be effective in inducing miscarriage:

‘Female Pills’, ‘Not to be used in cases of pregnancy,’ ‘The stronger the remedy the more effective it is,’ ‘Never known to fail.’

12. Illustrations. No advertisement should contain any illustration which by itself or in combination with words used in connection therewith is likely to convey a misleading impression, or if the reasonable inference to be drawn from such advertisement infringes any of the provisions of this Code.

13. Exaggerated copy. No advertisement should contain copy which is exaggerated by reason of the improper use of words, phrases or methods of presentation, e.g. the use of the words ‘magic, magical, miracle, miraculous.’

14. ‘Natural’ Remedies. No advertisement should claim or suggest, contrary to the fact, that the article advertised is in the form in which it occurs in nature or that its value lies in its being a ‘natural’ product.

15. Special claims. No advertisement should contain any reference which is calculated to lead the public to assume that the article, product, medicine or treatment advertised has some special property or quality which is in fact unknown or unrecognised.

16. Sexual Weakness. Premature Ageing. Loss of Virility. No advertisement should claim that the product, medicine or treatment advertised will promote sexual virility or be effective in treating sexual weakness, or habits associated with sexual excess or indulgence, or any ailment, illness or disease associated with those habits.

In particular, such terms as ‘premature ageing,’ ‘loss of virility’ will be regarded as conditions for which medicines, products, appliances or treatment may not be advertised.

17. Slimming, Weight Reduction or Limitation, or Figure Control. No advertisement should offer any product or treatment for slimming, weight reduction or limitation, or figure control if the taking or using of the product or following the course of treatment is likely to lead to harmful effects.

18. Tonic. The use of this expression in advertisements should not imply that the product or medicine can be used in the treatment of sexual weakness.

19. Testimonials. No statement or implication should be allowed to appear in a testimonial which would not be permitted in the text of the advertisement. In any case no advertisement should contain a testimonial other than one limited to the actual views of the writer, nor any testimonial given by a doctor other than a registered British medical practitioner unless it is obvious in the advertisement that the writer is not a registered British medical practitioner.

20. Hypnosis. No advertisement should contain any offer to diagnose or treat complaints or conditions by hypnosis.

21. Products offered for baldness. No advertisement should claim or imply that the product, medicine, or treatment advertised will do more than arrest the loss of hair, but claims to restore lost hair may be permitted provided that they refer only to cases of temporary baldness.

22. Hæmorrhoids. No advertisement should offer products for the treatment of haemorrhoids unless the following warning notice appears with the directions for use on the container itself or its labels:

‘Persons who suffer from haemorrhoids are advised to consult a doctor.’

Section 2 Restrictions Imposed by Statute

1. Cancer The Cancer Act, 1939, makes it an offence to take part in the publication of any advertisement which contains an offer to treat any person for cancer, to prescribe any remedy therefor, or to give any advice calculated to lead to its use in the treatment of cancer.

2. Abortion. The Pharmacy and Medicines Act, 1941, makes it an offence to take part in the publication of any advertisement referring to any article in terms which are calculated to lead to the use of the article for procuring the miscarriage of women.

3. Bright’s Disease, Cataract, Diabetes, Epilepsy, Fits, Glaucoma, Locomotor Ataxy, Paralysis, Tuberculosis. The Pharmacy and Medicines Act, 1941, makes it an offence to take part in the publication of an advertisement referring to any article in terms which are calculated to lead to the use of that article for the purpose of the treatment of these diseases.

Note. — Bright’s Disease is sometimes referred to as ‘Nephritis,’ Epilepsy as ‘Falling Sickness,’ and Tuberculosis as ‘Phthisis,’ ‘Consumption,’ or ‘Wasting Disease.’

4. Venereal Diseases. The Venereal Diseases Act, 1917, makes it an offence to advertise in any way any preparation or substance of any kind as a medicine for the prevention, cure or relief of venereal diseases.

The above prohibitions do not apply in the case of technical journals which circulate among persons of the classes mentioned in the respective Acts. It is permissible, for example, for advertisements to appear in technical journals intended for circulation mainly among registered medical practitioners, registered pharmacists and nurses (except in the case of (4) above, where no provision is made in the Venereal Diseases Act, for advertising in journals circulating among nurses).

The foregoing is a very broad outline of the effects of the relevant section of the respective Acts. For further and more detailed information, reference should be made to the Acts.

Section 3 Examples of Diseases, Illnesses or Conditions for which Medicines, Treatments, Products or Appliances may not be advertised

(See Section I, Clause 2)

No advertisement should refer to any medicine, product, appliance or advice in terms calculated to lead to its use for the treatment of any of the following illnesses or conditions:

amenorrhoea; anæmia (pernicious); ankles, diseased; arterio sclerosis; artery troubles; arthritis; asthma (a), barber’s rash; bleeding disease; blood disease; blood pressure; breasts, diseases of the; carbuncles; cardiac symptoms, heart troubles; convulsions; dermatitis; diseased ankles; disseminated sclerosis; ears (any structural or organic defect of the auditory system); enlarged glands; erysipelas; eyes (any structural or organic defect of the optical system); fungus infections (b); gallstones; glands, enlarged; goitre; heart troubles, cardiac symptoms; impetigo; indigestion, where the reference is to chronic or persistent; insomnia, where the reference is to chronic or persistent; itch; kidneys, diseases of the; lazy eye; leg troubles; legs, bad, painful; lupus; menopausal ailments; obesity; osteoarthritis; pernicious anaemia; phlebitis; prolapse; psoriasis—except where the reference is confined to relief from the effects of the complaint; purpura; pyorrhœa; rheumatism, where the reference is to chronic or persistent; rheumatoid arthritis; ringworm; scabies; skin diseases, where the reference is to ‘all’ or ‘most’ skin diseases, or skin ailments in general; Sleeplessness, where the reference is to chronic or persistent; squint; sycosis; thrombosis; ulcers: duodenal, gastric, pyloric, stomach; varicose veins (c); whooping cough (d).

(a) The restriction does not apply provided that:—
(1) It is made clear in the advertisement that the medicine, treatment, product or appliance advertised is only for the alleviation of an attack of asthma.
(2) The advertisement contains a recommendation that sufferers should seek medical advice.
(b) The prohibition does not apply to advertisements of products for the treatment of Athlete’s Foot.
(c) Advertisements for elastic hosiery are permissible provided that no claim is made that the product has any beneficial effect on the condition.
(d) This restriction does not apply where the reference to whooping cough appears only on labels or in literature issued with the product and is limited to offering the product for alleviating the symptoms of whooping cough.

Advertising Control

It is a fundamental principle of the Television Act that the programmes should not be provided or sponsored by advertisers, but procured by the Independent Television Authority from independent programme companies under contracts to it. The advertiser is concerned only to buy time in television for the insertion of his advertisement just as he buys screen time in the cinema or space in a newspaper or magazine. He has no share in programme production and no say in programming decisions: these are matters for the broadcasters—that is to say the programme companies and the Authority.

The income of Independent Television, apart from the overseas sale of programmes, derives from the sale of these advertising “spots” of time, each ranging from 5 to 60 or more seconds in duration. The service gets no share of the television licence fees or other public funds.

There are two provisions in the Television Act for this total distinction between programmes and advertisements. Under Section 4(3) and paragraph 1 of the Second Schedule of the Act, it is the Authority’s duty to secure that the advertisements are “clearly distinguishable as such and recognisably separate from the rest of the programmes”. But further, Section 4(6) of the Act lays down that

Nothing shall be included in any programmes broadcast by the Authority whether in an advertisement or not which states suggests or implies or could reasonably be taken to state suggest or imply that any part of any programme broadcast by the Authority which is not an advertisement has been supplied or suggested by any advertiser; and, except as an advertisement, nothing shall be included in any programme broadcast by the Authority which could reasonably be supposed to have been included therein in return for payment or other valuable consideration to the relevant programme contractor….

Exceptional allowance is made for charitable appeals, reviews of publications or entertainments, documentary programmes and other items, but none of the exceptions weakens the force of the general requirement that nothing should be done which might give to reasonable viewers even the impression that an advertiser has provided a programme. The system has from the beginning proceeded smoothly and without argument on this basis. Some of the popular imported programmes do owe their existence to advertisers who have “sponsored” them in their country of origin—notably some of the programmes from the United States that are enjoyed by viewers of either of the British television services. But for British viewers these programmes have been bought and broadcast on the decisions of one of the broadcasting bodies and not on the decisions of advertisers.

The Amount of Advertising

The Television Act does not lay down precisely the amount of advertising that may be allowed: it simply places upon the Authority the duty to secure “that the amount of time given to advertising in the programmes shall not be so great as to detract from the value of the programmes as a medium of entertainment, instruction, and information”. Since the beginning of transmissions in 1955, the Authority has allowed a maximum of six minutes of spot advertising an hour, averaged over the day’s programmes, but a further rule restricts the maximum to seven minutes in any single “clock-hour” (e.g. from 6-7 p.m., 7-8 p.m., etc.).

Control of the maximum amount of advertising by the clock hour has its merits as a tidy statistical device, but of course the rigidity of the clock hour conflicts occasionally with the need for flexibility in the timing of programmes and with the natural incidence of intervals in which the advertisements may be shown. So the Authority is prepared occasionally to allow minor departures from the seven-minute maximum if, for example, an interval of advertising falls just on one side of the striking of an hour instead of another, thus carrying a minute or two of advertising from one clock hour into another. In each case, however, the excess is counter-balanced by an equivalent reduction in the amount of advertising in the adjacent hour.

The following figures show the average hourly amount of advertising for all the Authority’s stations in service during each month of 1962:

Average amount of advertising
Month Average per hour over whole day (minutes) Average per hour between 7 and 10 p.m. (minutes)
January 4.9 6.6
February 4.6 6.3
March 4.7 6.2
April 4.9 6.2
May 4.4 6.2
June 4.4 6.0
July 5.0 6.5
August 4.4 6.1
September 4.2 6.1
October 4.4 6.4
November 4.9 6.5
December 4.3 5.9

Over the year as a whole, an average of 4.6 minutes an hour of spot advertising (about 7½ per cent of the broadcasting time) was transmitted from each station.

The Independent Television Authority allows less advertising in its programmes than is common in comparable self-supporting systems abroad.

Distribution of Advertisements

The Television Act makes specific provision for the insertion of advertisements not only at the beginning or the end of a programme but “in natural breaks therein”. This arrangement allows an even spread of the advertising and does not militate against long programmes which might otherwise be followed by impracticably long periods of advertising. In variety and light entertainment programmes, the succession of items offers a succession of natural breaks between them. In sports programmes there are natural breaks between events. Panel games contain obvious natural breaks between rounds of questions or when one contestant gives way to another. For much of the rest of the television programmes, the theatrical convention is observable—breaks marked in presentation by a change of scene, a significant lapse of time or a new sequence of events which in the theatre may coincide with the dropping of the curtain between two or three acts, or the darkening of the stage between scenes.

Some overseas broadcasting authorities aim to reduce the length of individual intervals of advertising; some also limit the number of advertisements that may appear in an interval. This has the effect of increasing the number of advertising intervals, in some cases to an average of five or six an hour. The Authority, however, has been concerned to keep the number of intervals down by extending their length as far as may be consistent with good presentation of both programmes and advertisements. There may be up to three minutes of advertising in intervals between programmes and up to two minutes in an interval in a 30-minute programme. Other intervals carry up to 2½ minutes. Numerical restrictions agreed between the Authority and the programme companies provide that, as a general rule, advertising intervals are restricted to two in the course of a programme of one or 1½ hours and one in a 30-minute programme. But not all programmes have advertising intervals and some 60-minute programmes have only one; and by agreement with the Postmaster-General, advertising may not appear within two minutes of the beginning or the end of programmes broadcast to schools, religious programmes and any broadcast of a formal Royal occasion.

As a result of these policies, the number of advertising intervals at the beginning and the end of programmes and in natural breaks is on average no more than three an hour over the evening and fractionally less than three an hour over the day. Taking the evening hours of 6-11 p.m. in a typical week in 1962, the figures were:

Number of programme hours 35
Number of programmes 67
Number of advertising intervals (including the interval at the end of the final programme in each period of five hours)
(a) Between programmes 57
(b) Within programmes 47
Total 104

These 35 evening programme hours included 30 with three advertising intervals, three with four intervals, one with two intervals and one with no interval.

Taking the whole of an average week in 1962, about 115 programmes were transmitted from a single station. Of these:

55 programmes had no internal advertising at all. These programmes accounted for about 20 hours out of the 60 or so transmitted and included news bulletins, Emergency – Ward 10, This Week, certain other documentary and current affairs programmes and some of the early evening children’s programmes, as well as the afternoon programmes for schools and religious programmes.

40 programmes had one internal break selected for the insertion of advertisements. While most of these were half-hour programmes, the group included one or two longer documentaries and three of the 60-minute plays: Probation Officer, Television Playhouse and Armchair Theatre.

20 programmes had 2 internal advertising intervals. These included 60-minute variety programmes and westerns and the 90-minute Play of the Week.

Advertising Magazines

Since the introduction of Independent Television, the permissible amount of advertising has included not only an average of six minutes of spot advertising an hour, but also a limited number of advertising magazines. This form of advertising has been relatively popular with many viewers. After consultation with the Authority, however, the Postmaster-General decided that the magazines should be discontinued after 31st March 1963.

Control of Standards of Advertising

The Television Act is in many respects an instrument of consumer protection. It gives to a public board, the Independent Television Authority, the duty and the power to exclude from television any advertisement that could reasonably be said to be misleading. Secondly, Section 4(5) of the Act requires the Authority to consult with the Postmaster-General from time to time as to the classes of goods or services which should not be advertised and the methods of advertising that should not be used in television, and to carry out any direction that he may feel the need to issue in these fields, over and above anything the Authority itself, with his concurrence, may propose to do.

The Advertising Advisory Committee

Under Section 8(2) of the Television Act, the Authority is required to appoint “a committee representative of organisations, authorities and persons concerned with standards of conduct in the advertising of goods and services (including in particular the advertising of goods and services for medical or surgical purposes) to give advice to the Authority and programme contractors with a view to the exclusion of misleading advertisements… and to prepare and submit to the Authority a code of standards of (advertising) conduct….” The Authority must comply and secure compliance with the code of standards recommended by that Committee.

The Advertising Advisory Committee was appointed by the Authority early in 1955, in good time for it to produce the required code of standards before transmissions began in the autumn of that year. Three of the Committee’s eleven members (excluding the Chairman) represent organized advertising bodies that are “concerned with standards of conduct in the advertising of goods and services”. These are the representatives of the Advertising Association, the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising, and the Incorporated Society of British Advertisers. Five represent organizations that are concerned in particular with standards of conduct in “the advertising of goods or services for medical or surgical purposes”. These are the representatives of the Ministry of Health, the British Medical Association, the British Dental Association, the Pharmaceutical Society, and the British Code of Standards Committee (the last being a body composed of Press, periodical, and advertising interests that is concerned with the voluntary control of medical advertising in media other than television). There is a representative of the Retail Trading-Standards Association (a national association of retail traders and manufacturers that is concerned to bring influence to bear against manufacturers or traders whose advertisements or selling methods or descriptions or merchandise are misleading to the public), and finally two independent members who are simply concerned about standards generally.

Members of the Advertising Advisory Committee are not restricted to expressions of opinion on subjects of special interest to the bodies they represent. They bring their minds to bear on all issues before the Committee and are fully aware of their own and the Authority’s responsibilities to the public.

Code of Advertising Standards

The Advisory Committee prepared the necessary code of advertising standards before transmissions began in 1955 and has kept it under review. The code is published by the Authority as the Principles for Television Advertising and is made freely available to advertisers and their agencies. It is reproduced at the end of this chapter. It takes the form of a general code with two appendices containing detailed rules about (i) specific classes of advertising and methods of advertising, and (ii) the advertising of medicines and treatments.

On being consulted by the Authority in accordance with Section 4(5) of the Television Act, the Postmaster-General accepted those parts of the code which deal with the classes of advertising and methods of advertising that should not be allowed.

Supervising Advertisements

Since the Authority itself is ultimately responsible for the broadcasting of the advertisements, it maintains a small department headed by a senior specialist to keep a general watch on the standards of television advertising as it appears on the screen and to raise any matters of detail or general interest that seem to need further consideration by the Authority, its Advisory Committee or the programme companies. But there are some 6,000 new television advertisements every year, and before they are accepted for broadcasting it must be ensured that they conform, in content and style, with the principles laid down by the Authority and its Advisory Committee. That considerable day-to-day task is devolved in practice to the programme companies, subject to consultation with the Authority’s advertising control staff in cases of doubt.

In advance of the production of a filmed advertisement the script, including fairly detailed indications of the filming directions, is submitted by an advertising agency to a special department of the Independent Television Companies Association (ITCA) for consideration in relation to the Principles for Television Advertising and the fund of interpretative rules and understandings that have over the years been developed in operating the television code of advertising practice. If necessary, the ITCA asks for substantiating evidence in support of an advertiser’s claims and always calls for full details of competitions or gifts to be advertised as enclosures in packets, substantiation of sales figures that may be claimed for a product and of claims of a technical nature. The ITCA may also find it necessary to seek fuller information about the scenes or situations that the advertiser proposes to depict. This information is circulated to all of the programme companies and any problems that arise are discussed by an experienced group of their representatives — the ITCA Advertisement Copy Committee.

To assist the Copy Committee in the assessment of claims involving medical, scientific or technical facts, the programme companies retain as advisers a panel of independent consultants, all eminent in their professions of medicine, dentistry, nutrition, analytical chemistry, dermatology, veterinary surgery and others, who have been nominated for the purpose by their professional bodies or are otherwise acceptable to these bodies. Every new television advertisement for a proprietary medicine, for example, is submitted by the ITCA to the appropriate consultant or consultants, so that the Copy Committee can have before it an independent expert opinion on the validity of a claim and, if necessary, on the tone and style of its presentation.

There is a twofold need for these relatively stringent precautions. First, there is the Authority’s legal duty to secure high standards of probity in the advertising through adherence to the spirit as well as the letter of the Principles for Television Advertising. Secondly, there is the nature of the medium. It is recognised not only by the Authority and the programme companies but by the advertisers that while the factual bases of advertising claims should be of consistent reliability in all media, the presentation of the facts calls for special care in television. Sound and motion give a peculiar air of reality to television advertising and the impression of person-to-person communication can add so much to its impact.

Advertising and Children

The depth and complexity of the operation may be judged from one small but important example. Paragraph 10 of the Principles for Television Advertising deals broadly with the conditions under which advertising may be addressed to children. These include the avoidance of any method of advertising that might result in harm to children physically, mentally or morally; or which takes advantage of their natural credulity and sense of loyalty; or which would encourage them to enter strange places; or lead them to believe they will be inferior to other children if they do not own some product; or encourage them to make a nuisance of themselves. Practical extensions and interpretations of these rules require that free gifts to children in packets of cereals, comics, and so on, are presented in such a way as to make clear their true nature and size — for example, by showing the gift in a child’s hands or beside some common object that fixes its scale. While children are not expected to be unnaturally and incredibly well-behaved, they must nevertheless be shown to be reasonably good-mannered (though opinions are bound to differ about this). Of even more importance, very young children should not be shown in dangerous practices which others might be tempted to emulate to their peril—for example, climbing on boxes or chairs to reach high shelves. And advertisers are expected to do their best to exclude from family scenes in advertisements anything that seems at variance with the proper safety precautions that should be taken by parents with small children—for example, a fireguard must be fitted in front of an open fire if young children are about, and “mothers” should not leave medicine bottles at the bedside of young “invalids”. If children are to be shown in the street, they should not be shown to behave unsafely in traffic; and if they are to be seen at play in the street, it should not be an open street but a play street.

Bearing in mind that there are many advertisements featuring family scenes or children; that they are designed and produced by a multiplicity of advertisers, agencies and film units; and that in any case so much depends upon subjective judgment, it would be little short of miraculous if there were nothing at all in the advertisements to which exception might be taken in one or other of these respects by some viewers. But it seems reasonable to assert that enough care is taken to satisfy most observers.

So the careful consideration of new advertisements in relation to the Principles for Television Advertising proceeds effectively before the advertisers and their agencies set the film producers’ cameras in motion to record the “commercials”. Voluntary co-operation at that early stage helps to ensure that the complexities, inseparable from the responsible use of such a persuasive advertising medium as television, are resolved before expense is incurred in the production of a costly film that might otherwise be found to need amendment when it is finally examined before acceptance for broadcasting.

The Advertising Advisory Committee

Mr Glanvill Benn (Chairman)
Mr FW Adams, FPS, FRIC Mr W Stewart Ross, FDSRCS, Eng
Mr HF Chilton Mr RC Sykes
Professor SR Dennison, CBE Mr RF Tyas
Mr Roger Diplock Dr Soloman Wand, DCL, MB, ChB
Miss Barbara Napier, JP

Two appointments are pending, to replace members whose terms of office have come to an end.

Rules as to advertisements

Television Act 1954

Second Schedule

  1. The advertisements must be clearly distinguishable as such and recognisably separate from the rest of the programme.
  2. The amount of time given to advertising in the programmes shall not be so great as to detract from the value of the programmes as a medium of entertainment, instruction and information.
  3. Advertisements shall not be inserted otherwise than at the beginning or the end of the programme or in natural breaks therein, and rules (to be agreed upon from time to time between the Authority and the Postmaster-General, or settled by the Postmaster-General in default of such agreement) shall be observed —
    1. as to the interval which must elapse between any two periods given over to advertisements;
    2. as to the classes of broadcasts (which shall in particular include the broadcast of any religious service) in which advertisements may not be inserted, and the interval which must elapse between any such broadcast and any previous or subsequent period given over to advertisements.
  4. In the acceptance of advertisements, there must be no unreasonable discrimination either against or in favour of any particular advertiser.
  5. The charges made by any programme contractor for advertisements shall be in accordance with tariffs fixed by him from time to time, being tariffs drawn up in such detail and published in such form and manner as the Authority may determine.
  6. Any such tariffs may make provision for different circumstances and, in particular, may provide, in such detail as the Authority may determine, for the making, in special circumstances, of additional special charges.
  7. No advertisement shall be permitted which is inserted by or on behalf of any body the objects whereof are wholly or mainly of a religious or political nature, and no advertisement shall be permitted which is directed towards any religious or political end or has any relation to any industrial dispute.
  8. If, in the case of any of the television broadcasting stations used by the Authority, there appears to the Authority to be a sufficient local demand to justify that course, provision shall be made for a reasonable allocation of time for local advertisements, of which a suitable proportion shall be short local advertisements.

Principles for Television Advertising

The rules about advertising which follow are abstracts from the 4th edition of “Principles for Television Advertising” issued by the Independent Television Authority in August 1961. They are based on the recommendations of the Advertising Advisory Committee appointed by the Authority under Section 8 (2) (b) of the Television Act, 1954. It is the duty of the Authority under the Act “to comply and secure compliance with the recommendations” of the Advisory Committee “subject to such exceptions or modifications, if any, as may appear to the Authority to be necessary or proper having regard to the duties incumbent on the Authority” otherwise than under subsection 8 (2). The Authority has accepted the Committee’s recommendations and they therefore govern all advertising on the Authority’s service until further notice. The Principles for Television Advertising are kept under review and are revised from time to time as necessary.

It should be noted that paragraph 2 of the “Principles for Television Advertising” expressly reserves the right of the programme contractors and the Authority to impose stricter standards of advertising conduct than those laid down in the “Principles” and its two Appendices. This right is comparable to the recognised right of owners of other advertising media to reject any advertisements they wish.

The “Principles for Television Advertising” represents a general code of television advertising conduct. Appendix 1 to the “Principles” contains rules about specific classes of advertisements and methods of advertising. Appendix 2 is a reprint of the “British Code of Standards in relation to the Advertising of Medicines and Treatments” which, under paragraph 2 (a) of Appendix 1, governs the advertising on television of medicines and treatments.

Under Section 4 (5) of the Television Act the Authority is obliged to consult the Postmaster-General about the classes and descriptions of goods or services which must not

be advertised and the methods of advertising which must not be employed and to carry out any directions which he may give them on the subject. The Authority has consulted the Postmaster-General about the rules here published and he has accepted those to which Section 4 (5) is applicable.

If an advertiser or advertising agent is in doubt about any advertisement, he should approach The Independent Television Companies Association Ltd., Television House, Kingsway, London, W.C.2, or the contractor or contractors with whom he proposes to place the advertisement. He should not approach the Advertising Advisory Committee or any of its members direct.

 

The Principles

1. Preamble. The general principle which will govern all television advertising is that it should be legal, clean, honest and truthful. It is recognised that this principle is not peculiar to the television medium, but is one which applies to all reputable advertising in other media in this country. Nevertheless, television, because of its greater intimacy within the home, gives rise to problems which do not necessarily occur in other media and it is essential to maintain a consistently high quality of television advertising.

2. The detailed principles set out below are intended to be applied in the spirit as well as the letter and should be taken as laying down the minimum standards to be observed. They should be read in conjunction with the rules about specific classes of advertisements and methods of advertising which are set out in Appendix 1. The programme contractors, and the Authority, may in certain circumstances impose stricter standards than those here laid down and these principles do not override or supersede the standards of practice laid down by individual organisations as incumbent upon their own members and applying to their own particular trade or industry.

3. Definition. The word “advertisement” has the meaning implicit in the Television Act, i.e., any item of publicity inserted in the programmes broadcast by the Authority in consideration of payment to a programme contractor or to the Authority.

4. Legal Requirements. Advertisements must comply in every respect with the law, common or statute. In the case of some Acts, notably the Merchandise Marks Acts, rules applicable to other forms of advertising may not, on a strict interpretation of the Acts, cover television advertising. Advertisements must, however, comply in all respects with the spirit of those Acts.

5. False or Misleading Advertisements. No advertisement, taken as a whole or in part, shall contain any spoken or visual presentation of the product or service advertised, or statement of its price, which directly or by implication misleads.

In particular:

(a) SPECIAL CLAIMS — No advertisement shall contain any reference which is likely to lead the public to assume that the product advertised, or an ingredient, has some special property or quality which is in fact unknown, unrecognised or incapable of being established.

(b) SCIENTIFIC AND TECHNICAL TERMS — Statistics, scientific terms, quotations from technical literature and the like must be used with a proper sense of responsibility to the ordinary viewer. The irrelevant use of data and jargon must never be resorted to to make claims appear more scientific than they really are. Statistics of limited validity should not be presented in such a way as to make it appear that they are universally true.

(c) IMITATION — Any imitation likely to mislead viewers, even though it is not of such a kind as to give rise to a legal action for infringement of copyright or for “passing off” must be avoided.

6. Disparaging References. No advertisement shall contain any statement intended to promote sales by unfair comparison with or reference to competitive products or services.

7. Testimonials. Documentary evidence of testimonials may be required as a condition of the acceptance of advertisements. The irresponsible use of testimonials must be avoided.

8. Guarantee. The word “guarantee” should be used with caution and sparingly and only in relation to some specific description or quality and the detailed terms of any such guarantee must be available for inspection by programme contractors. Where the guarantee is associated with an offer to return the purchase price, it must be made quite clear to what it applies and in what way it protects the purchaser.

9. Competitions. Advertisements inviting the public to take part in competitions where allowable under Section 3 (3) of the Television Act, 1954, and the Betting & Lotteries Act, 1934 (which requires the presence of an element of skill), should state clearly how prospective entrants may obtain the printed conditions including the arrangements for the announcement of results and for the distribution of prizes.

10. Advertising in Children’s Programmes. No product or service may be advertised and no method of advertising may be used, in association with a programme intended for children or which large numbers of children are likely to see, which might result in harm to them physically, mentally or morally, and no method of advertising may be employed which takes advantage of the natural credulity and sense of loyalty of children.

In particular:

(a) No advertisement which encourages children to enter strange places or to converse with strangers in an effort to collect coupons, wrappers, labels, etc., is allowed. The programme contractor must investigate the details of any collecting scheme and satisfy himself that it contains no element of danger to children.

(b) No advertisement for a commercial product or service is allowed if it contains any appeal to children which suggests in any way that unless the children themselves buy or encourage other people to buy the product or service they will be failing in some duty or lacking in loyalty towards some person or organisation whether that person or organisation is the one making the appeal or not.

(c) No advertisement is allowed which leads children to believe that if they do not own the product advertised, they will be inferior in some way to other children or that they are liable to be held in contempt or ridicule for not owning it.

(d) No advertisement dealing with the activities of a club is allowed without the specific permission of the programme contractor who must satisfy himself that the club is carefully supervised in the matter of the behaviour of the children and the company they keep and that there is no suggestion of the club being a secret society.

(e) While it is recognised that children are not the direct purchasers of many products over which they are naturally allowed to exercise preference, care should be taken that they are not encouraged to make themselves a nuisance to other people in the interests of any particular product or service.

Appendix 1

RULES ABOUT SPECIFIC CLASSES OF ADVERTISEMENTS AND METHODS OF ADVERTISING

1. Unacceptable Products or Services. Advertisements for products or services coming within the recognised character of, or specifically concerned with, the following should not be accepted: (a) money-lenders; (b) matrimonial agencies and correspondence clubs; (c) fortune tellers and the like; (d) undertakers or others associated with death or burial; (e) organisations/companies/persons seeking to advertise for the purpose of giving betting tips; (f) unlicensed employment services, registers or bureaux; (g) products or treatments for bust development or, except as permitted by the British Code of Standards, for slimming, weight reduction or limitation, or figure control; (h) contraceptives; (i) smoking cures; (j) products for treatment of alcoholism; (k) contact or corneal lenses; (l) clinics for the treatment of the hair and scalp; (m) products for treatment of haemorrhoids (notwithstanding Rule 22 of Section I of Appendix 2).

N.B. — An advertiser who markets more than one product may not use advertising copy devoted to an acceptable product for purposes of publicising the brand name or other identification of an unacceptable product.

2. Advertising of Medicines and Treatments.
(a) The British Code of Standards
The advertising of medicines and treatments may be accepted on the Authority’s service provided it complies with the basic standard of “The British Code of Standards in relation to the Advertising of Medicines and Treatments” which is attached as Appendix 2.

(b) Visual presentation of doctors, dentists, pharmaceutical chemists, nurses, midwives, etc.
In advertisements for medicines, treatments and products which are claimed to promote health or to be beneficial in illness, the following are not allowable:

(i) visual presentations which give the impression of professional advice or recommendation, and

(ii) statements giving the impression of professional advice or recommendation made by persons who appear in the advertisements and who are presented, either directly or by implication, as being qualified to give such advice or recommendation.

3. Mail Order Advertisements. Advertisements for the sale of goods by mail order should not be accepted unless the contractor has satisfied himself that adequate stocks of the goods in question are carried and that they correspond with the description given in the advertisement. Such advertisements should not be accepted where an accommodation address is given.

All advertisements should make it clear that the customer is entitled to return the goods within seven days if not satisfied and to obtain full refund of the purchase price.

4. Homework Scheme Advertisements. The fullest possible particulars of any schemes must be supplied and where it is proposed to make a charge for the raw materials or the components and where the advertiser offers to buy back the goods made by the homeworker, the advertisement must not be accepted.

5. Financial Advertisements. In view of the importance of giving full information in connection with any offer to the public of debentures, bonds and shares and in view of the difficulty of ensuring that such information is given in the limited time of the normal television advertisement, invitations to invest should be limited to the following:

(a) invitations to invest in British Government stocks (including National Savings certificates), stocks of public boards and nationalised industries in the United Kingdom and Municipal Government stocks in the United Kingdom;

(b) invitations to place money on deposit or share account with building societies;

(c) invitations to place money on deposit with the Post Office or any Trustee Savings Bank.

Advertisements by Unit Trusts authorised as such by the Board of Trade may be accepted provided that these are strictly limited to the name and description of the Trust, the address of its manager, and an invitation to viewers to write to the manager for full particulars of the units available. No person may be shown on the screen during the course of the advertisement.

Advertisements announcing the publication in established national and provincial newspapers and journals of prospectuses offering shares or debentures to the public may be accepted provided that these are strictly limited to giving the name of the company whose shares or debentures are being offered, the amount of the offer and the names and dates of publication of the newspapers and journals in which a prospectus may be found. No person may be shown on the screen during the course of the advertisement.

No advertisement should be allowed which contains any review of or advice about the stock market or investment prospectus, or which offers to advise on investments.

6. Hire Purchase. Advertisements relating to the sale of goods on hire-purchase or credit sale must comply with the provisions of the Advertisements (Hire-Purchase) Act, 1957.

7. Instructional Courses. Advertising offering courses of instruction in trades or subjects leading up to professional or technical examinations should not imply the promise of employment or exaggerate the opportunities of employment or remuneration alleged to be open to those taking such courses; neither should it offer unrecognised “degrees” or qualifications.

8. Betting (including Pools) Advertisements. Betting (including pools) advertisements are not allowed.