Home > Joint Committee on Tourism, Culture, Arts, Sport and Media debate. General Scheme of the Online Safety and Media Regulation Bill 2020: Discussion (Resumed).

[Oireachtas] Joint Committee on Tourism, Culture, Arts, Sport and Media debate. General Scheme of the Online Safety and Media Regulation Bill 2020: Discussion (Resumed). (02 Jun 2021)

External website: https://www.oireachtas.ie/en/debates/debate/joint_...

Chairman: We will move on to our session today, which is a continuation of our pre-legislative scrutiny of the online safety and media regulation Bill. I welcome witnesses to the meeting. They are joining us remotely through Microsoft Teams. I welcome Ms Kathryn Walsh, policy manager with the Irish Heart Foundation. I know Ms Walsh well and I am delighted to see her here. I welcome Ms Orla Twomey, chief executive of the Advertisement Standards Authority for Ireland, ASAI; Mr. Paddy McGeoghegan, advocacy and communications manager at Epilepsy Ireland; and Dr. Norah Campbell, associate professor of marketing at Trinity Business School, TCD. I will call on our witnesses to make their statements in that order. Before that, I have some formalities to go through. 

Chairman: I thank Ms Walsh. That was very informative and enlightening. I am sure members will have lots of questions. I ask Ms Twomey to address the committee on behalf of Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland, ASAI. 

Ms Orla Twomey: On behalf of the ASAI, I thank the Chair and members of the committee for the opportunity to meet with them to discuss the online safety and media regulation Bill. ASAI, the advertising regulator, with 40 years experience, covers the advertising on radio, linear and non-linear broadcast, anything digital, which includes social, in-game ads, influencer marketing, as well as print, outdoor and other traditional media. 

We go where advertising goes. 

Advertisements and user-generated material show the evolving remit of ASAI. We work hard with social media influencers so that ads are legal, decent, honest and truthful. ASAI covers most of the areas mentioned in the audiovisual media services directive, including protection of minors, recognisability, human dignity, discriminatory content, health and safety, environmental concerns, control of alcohol advertising and more. These are all addressed by the 18 sections of the ASAI code. 

As part of our approach on synergies across rules we will be incorporating rules relating to marketing communications for high-fat, salt and sugar foods into our code this month. The objective of the ASAI code is to ensure the highest standards in advertising are accepted by the main stakeholders in the Irish advertising industry. In addition, the ASAI approach is to collaborate with other stakeholders like State agencies and Departments. 

Advertising self-regulatory codes in 28 European countries cover the areas set out in the AVMSD, providing independent assessment, investigation and adjudication of complaints. In Ireland, we have nominees from both the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland - the deputy chief executive - and the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission - the senior consumer protection manager. The scale of advertising and the multiplicity of languages across the European Union is such that no single advertising regulator could operate an effective complaints handling mechanism. We are engaged with the European Advertising Standards Alliance on how the network can support the implementation of the AVMSD so EU citizens can continue to have complaints addressed by the local advertising self-regulatory body in the local language. Allied to this, we will be working with the EASA to develop tools for widescale monitoring of advertising content online.

 We welcome that the Bill provides latitude for the commission to enter into co-operation agreements with other bodies as it sees fit. In line with this collaborative approach we have several suggestions. The AVMSD explicitly encourages the use of self-regulation, an area in which the ASAI is a subject matter expert. We believe the Bill should also encompass that the commission may co-operate with or give assistance to an existing self-regulatory system. We believe the commission should be required to take account of established non-statutory mechanisms as part of the regulatory framework. Head 40 of the legislation relates to funding. The Bill should provide for the commission to direct funds to systems that it supports. I thank the members for their time and look forward to answering any questions…. 

[For the full debate, click this link to the Oireachtas website]

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