Public Affairs watch-outs for 2017

If you would like to know more about ISBA's Public and Regulatory Affairs work, contact: 

Ian Twinn

ISBA's Director of Public Affairs. 

Ian Twinn looks at some of the issues advertisers face in 2017

Ian’s experience of public affairs from the advertisers view point started when he joined ISBA in 1998, after 14 years in the Commons, having lost his seat as an MP in 1997.  During his 18 years at ISBA he has also served for 1 year as a London MEP, as an alternate member of the Economic and Social Committee of the EU and as a member of EU Commission expert groups.


Events, are always the biggest problem!  But in 2017 and for the next few years BREXIT will dominate Government time and energy.

Brexit brings opportunities as well as some significant challenges for business. But the first thing that has had to happen is for everyone to settle down and appreciate it is going to happen; UK will leave the EU in 2019, with or without an agreement that all EU institutions and the other 27 Members and their regional assemblies can sign up to.

We need to ensure that UK Government understands that advertisers will have strong views about the law and the rules post Brexit.

We also need to decide quite swiftly how much of the present EU law we want to keep.  I suspect it will be quite a lot.  UK advertising self-regulation through the ASA and CAP and BCAP is amongst the most effective and on some issues, the strictest as well. That has been our choice in the UK not an EU imposition.

The rules governing TV and TV like services is under review.  If we want to be able to sell our programmes, channels and platforms into the EU we will need to follow the revised laws.

The same will be true for data protection and handling.  If our rules do not maintain an ‘equivalence’ with the revised EU GDPR and the upcoming ePrivacy Regulation we will find it difficult to trade.

Don’t forget the global economy is fragile, but a trading centric UK post Brexit can be in a better place to grow our economy.


We are used to operating two or more sets of laws in the UK. Scotland may just push for a great difference.  Alcohol and food and soft drink advertising is very much on the Edinburgh agenda. A consequence of Brexit may well be that Westminster will allow, even encourage, more devolution of powers that could result in a very different advertising environment in Scotland.

Food and drink

New tough rules come into force in the UK on July 1st; foods high in sugar, salt and fat (HFSS) will be banned from advertising to children or in a way that would appeal to them. Will there be more pressure to come?  Or will the government prefer to work constructively with business to protect children and find a longer term way to tackle obesity. It is an issue close to ISBA’s heart. Working with government, campaign groups and the medical community is the surest way of really tackling the problem.


Gambling and the advertising of gambling is a political hot topic for 2017.  There is no doubt that there is a political push back from Labour’s liberalisation. I do not think that there is evidence to support large scale Government interventions into an already tough advertising rules regime.  But beware.


Broadband speeds also came in with the New Year. It is an issue with political legs in 2017.  A combination of Which? and Tory MPs is a powerful coalition for change. Pressure for advertising to allow consumer to know that they are more likely than not to get the speed advertised or better.


Whether we understand that a message is advertising/marketing or not depends partly on our age.  The law already deals with vulnerable groups of consumers but UNICEF is also taking a look at children’s critical understanding.  At what age are they properly aware? It is an issue that ASA and CAP have been looking at for some time now. It is also an issue which Media Smart is designed to help with.