Notes of guidance

Notes of Guidance

Detailed information about how we interpret the BCAP Code

The British Committee of Advertising Practice (BCAP) Code sets out the rules for what adverts broadcast in the UK can and can’t contain.

The BCAP (for broadcast advertising) and CAP (for non-broadcast advertising) Codes are available on the CAP website here.

However, we also produce guidance notes containing our views on how the Code should be interpreted. They’re useful to advertisers, agencies and broadcasters that want to understand how the rules work in practice. We work hard to keep our guidance updated in line with the latest information from BCAP, and to reflect ASA rulings on complaints.

Download guidance notes now (PDF, 2.2MB)

This is a substantial document, so we’ve separated it into sections which you can download if you wish and you will be able to search within it via the usual search function. If you have any feedback on our guidance notes, or suggestions for improvements, please speak to your Clearcast contact or send an email to notesofguidance@clearcast.com.

1.Compliance

The overarching principles of this Code are that advertisements should not mislead or cause serious or widespread offence or harm, especially to children or the vulnerable.

2.RECOGNITION OF ADVERTISING

The rules on recognition of advertising must be read in conjunction with all other parts of the Code, including Section 32: Scheduling of Advertisements.

3.MISLEADING ADVERTISING

The rules on recognition of advertising must be read in conjunction with all other parts of the Code, including Section 32: Scheduling of Advertisements.

4.HARM AND OFFENCE

Advertisements must not be harmful or offensive.

5.CHILDREN

Children must be protected from advertisements that could cause physical, mental or moral harm.

6.PRIVACY

Living individuals should be protected from unwarranted infringements of privacy.

7.POLITICAL AND CONTROVERSIAL MATTERS

The Communications Act 2003 prohibits political advertising.

8.DISTANCE SELLING

Most business-to-consumer distance selling contracts are subject to the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation, and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013.

9.ENVIRONMENTAL CLAIMS

Advertisements should take account of Government guidance including the Green Claims Code published by DEFRA and BIS.

10.PROHIBITED CATEGORIES

Broadcast advertisements for some products or services are not permitted either because those products may not legally be advertised or because of a clear potential for harm or serious or widespread offence to the audience or to society.

11.MEDICINES, MEDICAL DEVICES, TREATMENTS AND HEALTH

The rules in this section are designed to ensure that advertisements that include health claims and advertisements for medicines,medical devices and treatments receive the necessary high level of scrutiny.

12.WEIGHT CONTROL AND SLIMMING

The rules in this section are designed to ensure that advertisements for weight control and slimming products and services receive the necessary high level of scrutiny.

13.FOOD, FOOD SUPPLEMENTS AND ASSOCIATED HEATH OR NUTRITION CLAIMS

Public health policy increasingly emphasises good dietary behaviour and an active lifestyle as a means of promoting health.

14.FINANCIAL SERVICES, PRODUCTS & INVESTMENTS

The rules in this section largely draw attention to statutory regulation with which all advertisements must comply.

15.FAITH, RELIGION AND EQUIVALENT SYSTEMS OF BELIEF

These rules seek to strike a balance between freedom of speech and the prevention of advertising that could be harmful.

16.CHARITIES

These rules are intended to prevent the abuse of people’s charitable impulses.

17.GAMBLING

The rules in this section are designed to ensure that gambling advertisements are socially responsible.

18.LOTTERIES

The rules in this section are designed to ensure that lottery advertisements are socially responsible.

19.ALCOHOL

Advertisements for alcoholic drinks should not be targeted at people under 18 years of age

20.MOTORING

Advertisements should not contribute to a culture of dangerous, irresponsible or inconsiderate driving ormotorcycling, especially among young drivers.

21.BETTING TIPSTERS

Advertisements for betting tipster services should not be likely to mislead the audience.

22.PREMIUM RATE TELEPHONE SERVICES

The price and nature of premium-rate telephone services must be made clear.

23.TELECOMMUNICATIONS-BASED SEXUAL ENTERTAINMENT SERVICES

Telecommunications-based sexual entertainment services are voice, text, image or video services of a sexual nature.

24.HOMEWORKING SCHEMES

Homeworking scheme advertisements must neither mislead the audience nor exploit the susceptibilities or credulity of those seeking work.

25.INSTRUCTIONAL COURSES

Instructional course advertisements must neither mislead the audience nor exploit the susceptibilities or credulity of those seeking work.

26.SERVICES OFFERING INDIVIDUAL ADVICE ON CONSUMER OR PERSONAL PROBLEMS

May be advertised only if those advertisers have given the broadcaster evidence of suitable and relevant credentials

27.INTRODUCTION AND DATING SERVICES

Advertisements are acceptable, subject to rule 10.1.5: Prostitution and Sexual Massage and rule 10.2: Indirect Promotion.

28.COMPETITIONS

Competitions should be conducted fairly, prizes should be described accurately and rules should be clear and made known.

29.PRIVATE INVESTIGATIONS AGENCIES

Private investigation agencies may be advertised only if they have given the broadcaster evidence of suitable and relevant credentials

30.PORNOGRAPHY

Behind mandatory restricted access on adult entertainment channels” is interpreted with reference to rule 1.18 of the Ofcom Broadcasting Code

31.OTHER CATEGORIES OF RADIO ADVERTISEMENTS THAT REQUIRE CENTRAL COPY CLEARANCE

Products and services that require central copy clearance

32.SCHEDULING

Broadcasters must take special care when scheduling advertisements.

33.ELECTRONIC CIGARETTES

Special care must be taken when making ads for this sector.

APPENDIX 1

Guidelines for the advertising of disposable nappies (diapers)

APPENDIX 2

The Clearcast protocol for testing comparative anti-perspirant claims

APPENDIX 3

Advertising and Promotion of Consumer Products Making Anti-microbial Claims

APPENDIX 4

Scheduling and Timing Restrictions and Presentation Codes for TV Commercials

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