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New scheduling guidance and monitoring programme for alcohol TV ads

17 December 2013

BCAP has today published a new, strengthened, guidance note on the scheduling of TV advertisements to help broadcasters identify which television programmes should exclude ads for alcohol and other age restricted products.

In May, Ofcom published research into children’s exposure to alcohol advertising on TV and asked BCAP and the ASA to consider the data in light of our shared policy objective to ensure that alcohol ads are appropriately targeted to minimise their exposure to children and young people.
The advertising rules prohibit alcohol from being advertised in or adjacent to programmes commissioned for, principally directed at or likely to appeal particularly to audiences below the age of 18.

In response to Ofcom’s research, the ASA launched a full compliance investigation to establish whether there had been breaches of the scheduling rule. Ten adjudications were published on the ASA’s website earlier this year, nine of which recorded breaches of the Code.

BCAP examined the lessons from those rulings, the experiences of broadcasters and the exposure data and decided to update its guidance to make it clearer and easier to follow. The guidance, which is effective immediately, provides broadcasters with more tools with which to make better judgments.

New Guidance

The new guidance note significantly develops the previous version and includes:

  • Specific advice on technical issues, such as how to make decisions for small audiences; time-shifted channels; series with inconsistent scheduling; long-format programming, and new series. 
  • A more detailed outline of the technical aspects of scheduling and audience indexing. 
  • A clearer definition of the scope and purpose of the guidance and how it fits with the Code. 
  • An outline of what the ASA expects when enforcing the scheduling rules. 
  • A new model for scheduling decision-making. The new model outlines an ideal approach, but explains what steps broadcasters should take when that approach is not possible, with an emphasis placed on broadcasters demonstrating they have used the best available approach in any given circumstance.

It’s important that we test that the new guidance is having the desired effect, so:

  • The ASA will conduct a further monitoring and enforcement exercise in 2014 to test the response of broadcasters to BCAP’s guidance. 
  • BCAP will review the outcome of that exercise to ascertain whether further changes to the Guidance are necessary, and
  • Ofcom will conduct further research on the amount of alcohol advertising seen by children once the impact of the new guidance on broadcasters’ scheduling practices has become clear.

BCAP will write to all broadcast licensees with the new guidance and provide further industry advice and training in the New Year.

Alongside the guidance, we are also publishing an exchange of letters between the ASA, BCAP and Ofcom which details the work we’ve undertaken.

Updated Guidance note on scheduling and indexing

Letter to Ofcom from ASA Chief Executive, Guy Parker

Letter to Ofcom from CAP Chairman, James Best 

Letter to ASA from Ofcom Chief Executive, Ed Richards 

Letter to BCAP from Ofcom Chief Executive, Ed Richards 

The TV scheduling rules can be found here.

Our original announcement in response to Ofcom’s research

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