Regulation of television advertising in the United Kingdom
The purpose of the thesis is to examine the current state of regulation of television advertising in the UK, chiefly in the light of its historical background. A number of general theories of regulation are also used to analyse both developments in regulation policy and some of the events and processeisn the practical activity of regulation. The thesis seeks to demonstrate that the present structures have not simply arisen haphazardly, nor do they represent anything especially new, but are the result of a long process of evolution during which continuity rather than change has been the dominant theme. Broadcasting in the UK has enjoyed a much longer period of stable independent development than most countries of continental Europe, which has enabled it to establish strong and effective regulatory traditions. The advantage of a historical perspective is that it shows how these traditions were built up, who was responsible for the primary regulatory structures and what motivated them, and what were the causes of change in the system. It has an important explanatory value for an understanding of the present. My argument is that television advertising regulation cannot be divorced from broadcasting regulation as a whole, and although advertising has only been part of the broadcasting system since the inauguration of commercial television in 1955, the form and methods of its regulation cannot be divorced from their roots in television and radio's noncommercial past. The fact that broadcasting started as a private enterprise subject, in the words of one government minister, to "drastic" regulation, was soon reconstituted as a non-commercial public corporation acting as trustee for the national interest, and that business and advertising interests were only permitted a role in the broadcasting system after thirty years of operation, under similarly drastic regulation, has an important bearing on how advertising regulation is done today. Political, social and cultural influences on broadcasting and broadcast advertising regulation policy and its implementation are traced by looking at the Committee system of policymaking, and by examining numerous published and unpublished (confidential) reports and documents dealing with a variety of aspects of broadcasting and television advertising regulation. The extent to which public interest theory and other theories of regulation are relevant to broadcasting is also assessed. I have therefore sought to explain the present in terms of the past and with reference to several wider theoretical frameworks.