Tobacco advertising is prohibited on all kinds of radio and TV services. It is also prohibited, on all radio and TV stations, to broadcast advertisements for therapeutic goods unless these have been approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration. These are licence condition matters listed at Schedule 2 of the Broadcasting Services Act 1992.
The broadcasting of political advertisements is also regulated by licence conditions which apply to all radio and TV services.
Beyond that, the regulation of advertisements differs according to the industry sector involved.
Commercial TV (Free-to-air)
- The Commercial Television Industry Code of Practice has provisions about:
- placement of advertisements
- the amount of non-program matter (including advertisements) scheduled per hour
- loudness of advertisements in relation to adjacent programming
- disclosure of commercial arrangements, ie agreements or arrangements under which products or services are endorsed or featured in programs in exchange for payment.
- The Children’s Television Standards regulate the amount and content of advertisements directed specifically at children during designated children’s (C) viewing periods.
- The Television Program Standard for Australian Content in Advertising (TPS 23) regulates the amount of foreign-produced advertising that may be broadcast.
The Commercial Radio Australia Code of Practice has provisions about the content of advertisements, covering matters such as the depiction of violence, racial vilification, decency and language.
Commercial radio standards regulate matters such as the disclosure of sponsorship arrangements and ensuring that advertising is clearly distinguishable from all other programs.
Community radio and TV
Community radio and TV stations are not allowed to broadcast advertisements. However they may broadcast sponsorship announcements, within hourly limits (5 minutes for radio stations and 7 minutes for TV stations).
The ABC is governed by its own Act of Parliament and Charter in respect of advertising.
The SBS Code of Practice has provisions about the placement of advertisements and hourly time limits on advertisements.
Subscription broadcast TV (Pay TV)
The ASTRA Code of Practice – Subscription Broadcast Television has provisions about the content and placement of advertisements.
Subscription narrowcast TV
The ASTRA Code of Practice – Subscription Narrowcast Television has provisions about the placement of advertisements and the content of locally produced advertisements.
Open narrowcast TV
The ASTRA Code of Practice – Open Narrowcast Television has provisions about the placement of advertisements and the content of locally produced advertisements.
Complaints about matters related to advertisements which are covered by a code of practice must be made to the station concerned in the first instance. Complaints may be referred to the ACMA if the complainant is dissatisfied with the station’s response or if no response is received within 60 days.
Complaints about a radio or TV station’s compliance with a licence condition (such as the prohibition on tobacco advertisements) can be made directly to the ACMA. Complaints about compliance with a standard (eg the Children’s Television Standard or the commercial radio standards) can also be made directly to the ACMA. For further information, go to Broadcasting complaints.
Other government agencies also regulate advertisements
The Advertising Standards Bureau deals with the portrayal of sex/sexuality/nudity, portrayal of people, language, violence and health and safety in advertisements, including those broadcast on radio and TV. It also deals with motor vehicle and alcohol advertisements and advertising to children.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and state Departments or Offices of Fair Trading deal with truth and accuracy issues in advertisements.