FPB proposes hefty penalties for contravening advertising code

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The Film and Production Board (FPB) has called for harsher penalties against those found guilty of contravening the advertising code. The fine is currently capped at R150 000.

The FPB says current sanctions do little to deter advertisers from breaches. Representatives from the online regulator testified at the Human Rights Commission’s inquiry into racial discrimination in the advertising industry.

The commission into discrimination in the advertising industry has heard of efforts to strengthen regulation in the advertising space. This follows numerous complaints about adverts with racial undertones.

A memorandum of understanding was then reached to curb breaches in the industry.

The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) and the Advertising Regulatory Board joined forces.

ICASA Acting CEO Nkhetheleni Gidi says, “Because the legislation has indicated what the department can do we cannot license anything outside of the legislative license. We can only license the broadcasting.”

This means breaches reported to the ARB can be escalated to ICASA’s complaint and compliance committee.

Meanwhile, the Film and Production Board believes the sanctions imposed for breaches of the advertising code must serve as a deterrent.

FPB Interim CEO Dr Mashilo Boloka says, “The level of fines would be a deterrent, R150 000 is the maximum fine and it does nothing to these tech companies.  In other countries, the fines are huge, including barring them from operating in certain jurisdictions.”

The inquiry, led by the Human Rights Commission, will continue to probe key players in the advertising space. This is in a bid to address issues of racial discrimination in the industry.