The Queensland government will consider its options for penalising advertisers who fail to follow regulations.
The Queensland government has decided the advertising industry is doing enough to regulate itself, but has left itself the option of coming in with a bigger stick if advertisers don’t abide by the regulator’s rulings.
In response to a parliamentary inquiry into sexually explicit outdoor advertising that recommend the creation of a co-regulatory approach to outdoor advertising, the government has opted to act as back up to the industry’s self-regulatory approach.
“The Queensland government will investigate enforcement options to penalise advertisers that do not comply with the determinations of the Advertising Standards Board,” the government tabled in response to the recommendation.
It has disappointed Katter MP Shane Knuth who had attempted to change the laws surrounding outdoor advertising.
“What they are after is preventative action, not reactionary actions.”
The Australian Christian Lobby welcomed the government’s move to enforce any penalty, but hoped the government would go further.
“The Advertising Standards Board is a self-regulated body. Currently, they alone hand down rulings against its advertisers and there is no recourse once their decision is made, making it difficult to keep advertisers accountable to the community,” ACL Queensland director Wendy Francis said.
“At the very least we need a government avenue for people to go to if their complaint to the ASB is unsuccessful.”
But CEO of the Outdoor Media Association, Charmaine Moldrich, said self-regulation was working. While Ms Moldrich was yet to read through the government’s recommendations or discuss it with colleagues or industry counterparts, she said the government’s message sounded consistent with the OMA’s argument at the parliamentary inquiry.
“I think you have to look at the data and what the data is saying is we have a very good self regulatory system,” she said.
“It is not about the number of complaints – complaints are a good sign that the system is working, that people feel empowered to act.
“I think the proof in the pudding is always in the eating, and if you look at the number of complaints that have been upheld for outdoor advertising, for our members, it came down to one ad last year.
“We estimate that we post about 30,000 campaigns a year and to have one complaint upheld is pretty good odds for anyone’s books, I would say.”
Ms Moldrich said OMA went above and beyond to ensure that community expectations regarding outdoor advertising were respected.
“We operate with 12 self regulatory codes in place which we don’t just abide by but we also educate our members on the codes,” she said.
“Every 18 months we run a training program for our members with the AANA and the ASB to get our members across these codes.
“We have made a real commitment not just to sign off on the codes, but to have a really meaningful relationship with those codes. That is to ensure our members are across them and understand them.
“On top of those codes we also have the OMA’s own code of ethics as well as additional guidelines which we have put in place, for example, [with] alcohol advertising we have a 100 metre placement policy for schools. This responds to community concerns about such advertising.
“We are very vigilant about our relationship with the community and take prevailing community standards very seriously. I believe we deal very responsibly with the codes and guidelines and balance community needs with the need for advertisers to promote their brands in a free market economy.”