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In 1961, shortly after commercial TV started broadcasting in 1955, advertisements were made subject to law. This was the first time that advertisements – and the claims they made – were subject to any form of formal regulation.

In that year, the Advertising Association, following discussions with other industry associations, brought together key players in the industry (agencies, media and advertisers) to form the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP).

This, in turn, produced the first edition of the British Code of Advertising Practice, covering advertisements in non-broadcast media (print, newspapers, posters, direct mailings, billboards etc). In addition, in 1962, the industry was instrumental in setting up the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), to rule on whether advertisements breached the new Code.

The industry’s actions meant that the UK decided not to opt for statutory regulation or the establishment of an official regulator, such as exists in countries such as the US.

In 1974, following criticism of its effectiveness, the ASA set up the Advertising Standards Board of Finance (Asbof) to provide sufficient and secure funding for the system through a levy of 0.1% on advertising space costs.

In 1988, statute, in the form of the Control of Misleading Advertisements Regulations, provided the ASA with legal backing. Under these regulations the ASA was able to refer advertisers who made persistent misleading claims and refused to cooperate with the self-regulatory system to the Office of Fair Trading for legal action.

In 2004, the newly-formed communications regulator, Ofcom, agreed to contract-out responsibility for broadcast (TV and radio) advertising to the ASA system in a co-regulatory partnership.

In 2009, again through a co-regulatory agreement, the ASA took on responsibility for advertisements appearing on video on demand channels (VOD); and, in 2010, it added wider online advertising to its remit.