As a voluntary system, self-regulation relies very much on the good will, good sense, and commitment of advertisers to provide consumers with appropriate advertisements and through this promote consumer and government confidence in the general standards of advertising.
Ad Standards has a record of nearly 100 per cent compliance by industry with decisions of the Ad Standards Community Panel. Ad Standards' ability to achieve compliance across Federal, State and Territory jurisdictions, regardless of the size of the advertiser, is something that legislation and government administration is very unlikely to rival.
Advertisers, advertising agencies, media personnel and agencies, know that there is no government intervention in the self-regulation system and to maintain this position it is necessary to achieve high levels of compliance with Community Panel decisions.
In the past this knowledge has been sufficient to achieve absolute compliance. The aim is to maintain that record and ensure the system continues to work effectively without government intervention.
Ad Standards will continue to work with the advertising industry, associated national and international bodies and the community to maintain a healthy system of advertising self-regulation.
Regardless of an advertiser’s reaction to a Community Panel determination, in the vast majority of cases where Code breaches are found, advertisers quickly ensure that their advertisement is removed or modified.
Very few advertisers require more encouragement to comply. However, if necessary Ad Standards has developed a range of enforcement actions to ensure compliance with Community Panel decisions.
Firstly, if a complaint indicates that an advertisement may breach government regulations or has broken the law, Ad Standards can refer the case report to an appropriate government agency or industry body that has the authority to withdraw the advertisement. This can be done without a case going to the Community Panel for consideration.
Other actions can include the following.
- An advertiser’s failure to respond will always be included in the final case report which is made public on Ad Standards' website. This is generally unwelcome publicity for the advertiser and for most advertisers such publicity is a threat to brand reputation and is to be avoided.
- In a similar fashion, an advertiser’s failure to respond can feature in information released to the media which follows the relevant Community Panel meeting, and Ad Standards' CEO will respond to all media requests with a full account of the particulars of the case, including the timeliness of the advertiser’s compliance.
- Should an advertiser fail to respond to Ad Standards' request to remove or modify advertising, Ad Standards will liaise with industry and media bodies such as FreeTV, and the Outdoor Media Association which will either negotiate with the advertiser directly for the removal of the advertisement or in specific cases, take action to remove the advertisement.
- Under appropriate circumstances, Ad Standards will refer an advertiser to a government agency such as the Commonwealth Department of Communications, the Australian Communications and Media Authority, the Attorney-General’s Department, or to State Police Departments to request that these agencies assist in taking action against the advertiser.