Aardvark
Advertising Standards Complaints Board rules against Telecom
Copyright © 1996 to Bruce Simpson

When a number of independent ISPs including Voyager, Actrix, NetAccess, and Plain Communications placed an advertisement alleging that Telecom was offering preferential pricing to its Xtra subsidiary earlier this year, Telecom responded by laying a complaint with the Advertising Standards Complaints Board.

The board's ruling has now been published and it makes very interesting reading.

In essence, the board admits that the advertisement "technically infringed the code of ethics" but that the seriousness of this breach was outweighed by the rights of advertisers to express their views.

In its ruling, the board said that it regretted the need to publish such ads in the first place and noted that it was time the telecommunications industry set up a self-regulatory body where this sort of thing could be resolved.

ISOCNZ and ISPANZ are both organisations which would potentially have a role to play in the resolution of such issues but at this time, Xtra (Telecom) have chosen not to join ISPANZ and ISOCNZ appears to be steering clear of any purely commercial issues.

This is surely one of the very few times when any kind of official organisation has been willing to allow commonsense to over-ride the literal interpretation of the rulebook.

The implications of this ruling are possibly less important to the parties concerned than they are to the advertising industry, obviously extending tbe boundaries of what can be considered "acceptable practice".


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