How ad regulation keeps its checks in check and balances balanced

As the writer of the rules and guidance for UK advertising, we at the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) are focussed on ensuring our work and policies are fair, balanced and effective. We need to make sure the public is protected from any potential harms while also being careful not to place undue constraint on advertisers, helping to support the role that ads play in delivering healthy competition and consumer choice.

Whenever we’re creating new rules or adjusting existing ones, we have appropriate regard to the principles of good regulation:

  • Transparent: we clarify the intent of our rules, and how we  go about developing them
  • Proportionate: we ensure that we weigh up the evidence of potential advertising harm against the restrictions set by the rules, so that we don’t act unfairly
  • Targeted: we ensure our rules are clearly focused on the issues causing detriment, and that they are designed to tackle them specifically
  • Consistent: our rules are in harmony with what we, other regulators and the law requires and they apply fairly and proportionately to advertisers
  • Accountable: just as we hold advertisers to account, we also hold ourselves responsible to Ofcom, the Government and the public, and we take their feedback on board
  • Evidence-based: we make decisions based on the facts

In practice, this means we’re committed to open, thoughtful decision-making. We launch consultations, taking in the views of interested parties, Government, industry and consumer groups to ensure our rules are thorough and fair. We regularly call for and review the latest evidence to ensure our rules and guidance are fit-for-purpose.

With the Advertising Advisory Committee, an independent expert panel, we get consumer perspective on policy proposals. Through our contract with Ofcom, we operate under accountability frameworks with them. We engage extensively with Government and Parliamentary Select Committees, and we’re subject to judicial review.

At every stage, CAP strives to hold itself accountable to advertising’s key stakeholders, most obviously the public and the advertising industry. By ensuring we’re committed to the principles of good regulation, not just in spirit but in practice, we protect consumers while allowing responsible businesses to flourish.

Check out our infographic below to find out more about the checks and balances that CAP is subject and committed to.

An infographic detailing who CAP are and how they keep advertising in check


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