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Proposed relaxation to the BCAP ban on encouraging children’s “Pester Power”


The Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice (BCAP) is the regulatory body responsible for maintaining the UK Code of Broadcast Advertising (the Code) under a contracting-out agreement with Ofcom.

Rule 5.9 of the Code currently provides that:

“Advertisements must neither directly exhort children to buy a product or service nor encourage them to ask their parents, guardians or other persons to buy or enquire about a product or service for them”.

In order to ensure the Code is clear, proportionate and consistent with the law, BCAP is seeking views on a proposal to remove wording from Rule 5.9. 

Proposed Amendments

All business-to-consumer advertisements must comply with the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 (CPRs).

These regulations impose a general prohibition on all unfair, misleading or aggressive practices and implement the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive (2005/29/EC) (Directive).

BCAP considers that Rule 5.9 goes beyond the requirements of the Directive and provides for a higher degree of consumer protection. BCAP has therefore proposed a relaxation of Rule 5.9 to be read

“Advertisements must not directly exhort children to buy or hire a product or service, nor directly encourage them to persuade their parents or others to buy or hire the advertised product or service for them.”

The proposed changes would replace the word “ask” with “persuade” for the sake of consistency with the Directive.

The changes would also see an inclusion of the adverb “directly” in order to prevent advertisers being put in jeopardy of a breach for even an indirect encouragement.

Summary of Key Changes

Advertisements that merely encourage children to ask their parents to enquire about a product or service will therefore no longer be banned under the proposed amendments to Rule 5.9. 

Advertisements which directly encourage children to persuade parents to buy or hire a product or service will still be prohibited. 

More details can be found at the BCAP Rule 5.9 Consultation.

The deadline for responding to the consultation is 5pm on 22 July 2014.


This article was written by Vanessa Barnett.

For more information contact Vanessa on +44 (0)20 7203 5228 or vanessa.barnett@crsblaw.com