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ASA Announces Extension of Digital Remit into Non-paid For Online Space

The ASA’s jurisdiction is to be extended to encompass advertiser’s marketing communications online which appear on the advertiser’s own websites or other pages controlled by them (such as Facebook or other social networking pages).

On 1 March 2011, the UK Code of Non-broadcast Advertising, Sales Promotion and Direct Marketing (the CAP Code) will apply to  “Advertisements and other marketing communications by or from companies, organisations or sole traders on their own websites, or in other non-paid-for space online under their control, that are directly connected with the supply or transfer of goods, services, opportunities and gifts, or which consist of direct solicitations of donations as part of their own fund-raising activities”.

CAP’s implementation document makes clear that the drafting of the new remit is framed so as to focus specifically upon material “which can be properly accepted as constituting an advertisement or other marketing communication” in recognition of the need to protect freedom of speech online and to distinguish between advertising and editorial or other material which is and will remain outside the ASA’s jurisdiction.

CAP acknowledges that “Websites can include marketing communications and other types of communication including, for example, editorial, public relations e.g. press releases and investor relations material that must properly remain outside the remit of the CAP Code and, therefore, outside the jurisdiction of the ASA.”

As well as excluding all editorial and pr content, material related to causes and ideas is also excluded from the new remit. User generated content will be subject to the Code only if it is adopted and incorporated by an advertiser into their marketing communications.

Advertisers now have 6 months to ensure that their own advertisements on their own websites conform with the Code, the revised version of which for both print and paid for online ads on third party space came into force on 1 September.

NS members who subscribe to the ad control service can also contact PERA advisers Atiqur Chowdhury and Ierena Pace for individual advice.

Full details can be found on the ASA’s website.

For further information contact Sue Oake on 0207 632 7463 or e-mail

The NS is the voice of Britain’s local media, the UK’s most trusted medium. It represents 1,100 newspapers, 1,700 websites and other print, digital and broadcast channels.