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Legal aspects of TV and Radio advertising

Legal aspects of TV and Radio advertising

If you want to create an advertisement to be broadcast on television or radio, you need to ensure that you stick to certain rules on a range of matters, from age appropriateness to considerations about potential offence which might be caused. 

UK Code of Broadcast Advertising

The UK Code of Broadcast Advertising (BCAP Code) is enforced by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) which has the power to ban or request changes to be made to any adverts which breach the rules. A few important sections of the code include: 

Misleading advertisements 

Any claims made about products must be true and benefits should not be exaggerated. Any important information which would be likely to cause a consumer to make a decision about whether or not to purchase goods or services should be stated clearly and unambiguously. Pricing also needs to be accurate and should take into account the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) Pricing Practices Guide. 

Harm and Offence

Adverts which are broadcast on radio or TV “must contain nothing that could cause physical, mental, moral or social harm to persons under the age of 18”. They should also “not cause serious or widespread offence against generally accepted moral, social or cultural standards”. If in doubt, it’s worth consulting with a clearing organisation (see below on advert clearing). 


Advertising which could be deemed inappropriate for younger viewers should be scheduled accordingly, such as post-watershed. Adverts “must not take advantage of children’s inexperience, credulity or sense of loyalty.” 

Medicine and health 

Adverts for medical products or which involve health claims are subject to particularly high levels of scrutiny and it’s vital that any such claims can be backed up with sufficient scientific evidence. Medical products need to have been approved by the appropriate regulatory bodies.

For the full code go to: http://www.cap.org.uk/Advertising-Codes/Broadcast-HTML.aspx

Ofcom and advert clearing 

If your marketing exercise involves product placement in TV or radio shows, it will need to pass certain requirements under the Ofcom Broadcasting Code. Furthermore, you’ll need to seek clearance from the RACC (http://www.racc.co.uk/) for radio adverts and Clearcast (http://www.clearcast.co.uk/)for TV advertising. 

If you’re advertising goods or services, you should make sure your terms and conditions tally up with any marketing materials. A variety of sector specific Ts and Cs can be downloaded from our Business Documents Folder. Click below for further information.

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