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.