Ad clearance process
The process we follow when clearing scripts or ads for TV
We have created a short animation which also explains the process:
Anyone who registers with us is assigned a specific contact. If you have any questions, please submit them to your contact to receive the quickest response. If your contact is away their work will be covered by one of our cover team or by another member of staff. You can find out who will be covering your work by emailing us.
How long should I leave for clearance?
Clearance is a three stage process:
1. Submit a script for approval
2. Submit a rough edit for approval (not compulsory but strongly recommended)
3. Submit the finished ad for final sign off
Overall it's important that you leave 2-3 working weeks for the clearance process.
The first stage of any clearance is approving the script of the ad. This usually takes 2 working weeks as it's a crucial stage of the process that requires due diligence. We always respond as quickly as we can either to confirm clearance, raise issues we have identified or request substantiation. However during a clearance we sometimes require advice from our specialist consultants which may mean further time is required for approval.
Clearance of the actual ad itself (or a rough cut) is usually processed in 2-3 working days if the ad is in line with your approved script and there aren’t any technical issues with your video file.
Our service levels explain how long it may take us to provide a response.
How much does it cost?There are no costs involved in the process providing your ad will be transmitted on one of the channels we clear for.
If the channel isn’t on this list they should be approached directly for clearance of your ad.
The only occasion where charges may be involved for you is when you want what’s classified as a Late Clearance.
Script clearanceThe first stage of every clearance (even if your ad is already made) is to submit a script to Clearcast via CopyCentral, our online submissions portal.
Please note the following in regards your script:
- The script must include all words spoken in the ad eg a presenter talking to the camera, characters talking to one another or a traditional voiceover.
- The script must include visual description. This can be in the form of screengrabs or a short, concise written description.
- If there is an intention to audio describe the ad for those who are blind or partially sighted, this should be noted in the feedback section of the submission and the proposed description should be included on the script.
- The script must include any onscreen text in the ad, whether creative or legal.
- There should only be one script per submission on CopyCentral.
- Word docs are preferable for all scripts, though we would accept a pdf or powerpoint document.
See our template script:
See our CopyCentral user guide which tells you how to upload scripts:
Download User Guide (PDF)
When you submit a script for clearance, this is what happens:
- Your Clearcast contact will assess the script against the UK Code of Broadcast Advertising (BCAP) and identify any claims that need supporting, or anything else that needs clarification. They will then feedback to you via CopyCentral.
- On occasion we may need to involve one of our consultants for their opinion on any complex issues. This is usually via email but sometimes we can facilitate a Meet the Consultant session.
- If your script requires further discussion it may be submitted to our daily Policy and Copy Meeting (PCM). At this meeting copy managers and the head of copy clearance will make a decision about the script. We’ll let you know what decision is taken.
- If agreement cannot be reached at PCM your script may be referred to our copy committee who meet monthly. This is a panel made up of representatives of the broadcasters we clear for. This is a last resort and happens rarely.
This is the term we use for the evidence we need in support of any claims made in your ad. Substantiating your claims is a necessary requirement as per section 3.9 of the BCAP code. We ask everyone who works with us to use the template documents we’ve created when supplying substantiation to us, it helps makes the process quicker and smoother.
The retail substantiation form should be used for retail offers:
Retail substantiation form
The gambling substantiation form should be used for gambling offers:
Gambling substantiation form
The Claim Support Model (CSM) should be used for more complex or detailed submissions. These are usually science-based such as cosmetics, medicine or slimming/diets but it can be used for anything that requires a substantial amount of supporting data.
- If your script isn’t retail and the CSM is too detailed for your requirements you must use a document on the client’s headed paper that’s signed off by someone senior at the client to cover the claims in your script. Please ensure it’s clear, concise and addresses all the points raised.
- We can't accept web links or press releases as support for claims. Information from websites used in support of claims must be presented in a different format eg copying screengrabs into a substantiation document. Please remember to include details of the website the information was taken from.
All substantiation needs to be uploaded onto the submission via CopyCentral, please do not email it to your Clearcast contact.
Making a decision
Once we have received suitable substantiation and determined your script should be approved, we’ll sign it off on CopyCentral.
If the script doesn’t comply with the BCAP code we’ll let you know why and suggest ways the script could achieve approval.
Video ClearanceAfter your script is approved it’s time to upload your ad.
Please note submitting a rough cut or finished ad is a new stage of the process so a new submission must be created on CopyCentral. If the ad is audio described, this should be noted in the feedback section of the submission.
We’d always advise submitting a rough version of your ad (a ‘Rough Cut’) after your script is approved and before you submit the finished ‘clocked’ version of the ad. The potential benefits of this are:
- Saving you time and money by allowing us to check the ad is in line with the approved script before you’ve created the finished version
- Checking your ad passes our flashing and legal text checks (see below for more info). If it fails you can upload your revised rough cut onto the same submission instead of creating a new one
- Identifying any issues not caught at script stage and advising on timing restrictions.
Please note that if a ‘rough cut’ is approved this does not guarantee acceptance of the final version.
After the rough cut has been signed off, the final version of the ad (what’s called the ‘Clocked’ version) should be submitted to us for final approval, this is the version that needs to be delivered to the broadcasters you’ve booked airtime with.
When you submit a clocked or rough cut ad for clearance, please make sure it is accompanied by its approved script and that the ad is submitted digitally through CopyCentral.
If the ad’s transmission is imminent and there isn’t time for a standard clearance, we will do our best to provide provisional clearance. This means you can run the ad on the stations you’ve booked airtime with whilst we work on full approval. It does not provide the same checks and guarantees as final clearance and can be overturned at a later stage. If required we can also facilitate a ‘Late Clearance’. This is not a fast track service and is chargeable. For further details click here.
This guide explains how to upload your ad onto our system:
Download User Guide (PDF)
Technical infoTechnical specifications for all rough cuts and completed ads submitted to us can be found on our dedicated help site.
If you have any detailed technical questions please email our help team.
When submitting a clocked edit to us please remember to include the following:
- 30 secs of countdown clock at the start of the video file you upload.
- A clock number that’s clearly displayed on screen whilst the countdown clock counts down
If you’re unsure about how to create a clock number please click here.
Legal text (also known as ‘Supers’) is often a requirement in ads and it must comply with the regulations relating to size and ‘hold’ time, eg how long it is onscreen for. It must always be in standard sentence case, not upper case lettering.
Passing our legal text checks requires careful consideration and if a finished ad fails our tests it can’t be transmitted and will need a new clock number.
We have two tools on our website that you can use to check your legal text before submitting your ad to us, the Height of Supers Testcard and the Duration of Hold Calculator.
You can find more detailed information on Supers here.
All video submissions must comply with the guidelines on flashing images. Useful information about flashing can be found here.
What happens next?Once we receive your ad, this is what we do:
- Your ad will be viewed at our daily viewing meeting; we meet at 10am every morning to watch all the ads that have been submitted to us in the preceding 24 hours. If we receive your ad by midday, we’ll view it at our meeting the following morning.
- During this meeting your ad will be checked and approved for broadcast by our copy clearance staff.
- We will let you know once your ad has been approved. We’ll also tell you about any restrictions that need to be applied.
- If we can’t approve the ad we’ll tell you as soon as we can, providing as much detail as possible.
If you have any questions about the process please email us.