Authority rejects call for changes to billboard advertising

Radio New Zealand 5 April 2009
Advertising Standards Authority chairperson Rick Osborne says there is no need to tighten the regulations governing billboard advertisements. Bob McCoskrie who is spokesperson for the lobby group Family First says a vetting system is needed to prevent children being exposed to offensive advertising. He says the most recent case of a promotion in central Wellington for sex toys is proof the system doesn’t work. But Mr Osborne says any member of the public can complain about an advertisement, and the ad is always withdrawn if it’s found to breach advertising codes.

He says regulating what material is or isn’t offensive before publication would be too complicated. Mr Osborne says it’s difficult to judge what people may find offensive, because opinions vary widely. But Mr McCoskrie says a complaints process is only available after an advertisement appears and by then it’s too late. He says when advertising is in the public domain, such as with billboards, there needs to be a higher standard than for targetted advertising such as that in a magazine. Mr McCoskrie says a vetting system is needed that will prevent distasteful advertising from appearing in the first place.