Friday, May 18, 2012

Further ASA response - an admission of error

This just in from the ASA Investigations Manager:
Dear Sir
Thank you for your email.
We’re sorry for any confusion or upset we’ve caused. We do accept that our first email didn’t state that you were not compelled to respond to us, though we did clarify that explicitly in our second email to you. We do try to work with – rather than against – advertisers, agencies and publishers to resolve complaints that are raised with us. We also strive to make sure that our communications are clear, so we will certainly take on board the issues you’ve raised for future investigations.
Our website statement clarifies that publishers are not compelled to respond in these cases and was published after our second email to you.
Given that our investigation is ongoing and that you are not the subject of that investigation, I will not be addressing the wider queries you have raised or corresponding further on those points. That’s because your questions go beyond your involvement in this case. However, I will clarify that although we contacted all publishers mentioned by complainants, we asked only you and one other publisher to respond on the ‘offence’ point (as distinct from the ‘misleading’ point), because complainants specifically mentioned being offended about the appearance of the ads only in those spaces. While we would welcome your views, as a publisher, on how your readership may have responded to the ads, you are not compelled to respond.
Thank you for raising your concerns with us.
Best wishes
All of which is quite interesting in the context of a report in this week's Church of England Newspaper:
Anger as official inquiry launched into marriage campaign advert
COALITION FOR MARRIAGE (C4M) will not be withdrawing an advertisement that has led to 24 complaints being made to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).
ASA has asked the Archbishop Cranmer blog, which carried the advertisement, to respond to the complaints. “We intend to deal with the complaint as a formal investigation, which means it will then be considered by the ASA Council,” the blog has been told. “We will then draft a recommendation for the Council based on your response to us. Once the Council had made a decision, the adjudication will be published on our website.”
The Conservative Home and the Guido Fawkes blogs have also carried the advert and they will also be asked to respond to complaints, according to a spokesman for ASA.
C4M says the advertisement has also appeared in national newspapers. A spokesman said the advertisement has been produced by a reputable firm and denied it is any way offensive or homophobic.
Some 24 people have complained that statement that 70 per cent of people are opposed to changing marriage is inaccurate, but C4M says this figure comes from a poll carried out by ComRes, which was commissioned by Catholic Voices.
ASA receives about 30,000 complaints a year but only a small proportion are judged worthy of formal investigation. Formal action leads to action in the case of between 2,000 and 3,000 advertisements. ASA cannot actually ban an advertisement although it can ‘name and shame’ offenders on its website and refer cases to the Office of Fair Trading.
Political Advertisements are not subject to the ASA and a spokesman for the organisation admitted it was possible that the C4M advertisement could be seen as a political advertisement at a time when same-sex marriage has become a subject of political debate.
ASA has also caused controversy by its attempt to ban advertisements for street healers in Bath. This led to a letter of complaint to ASA from members of the Parliamentary Christian group.

So, the ASA admits that His Grace was not informed that there was no compulsion to respond, and then they deflect by insisting that the statement upon their website is a reference to their second email (fisked here). But the report in the Church of England Newspaper appears to suggest that the ASA has now indeed decided to seek the opinions of Guido Fawkes and ConservativeHome on this matter. While the former (being an Irish national with a blog hosted on overseas servers) will doubtless tell them where to go, the latter will tread more carefully. The ASA has clearly shifted its approach in response to His Grace's assertion that all publishers should have been threatened and harassed equally.


Blogger Guido Fawkes said...

I know you might fancy being a martyr again but it is not because my blog, like yours, is hosted overseas that I ignore the ASA.

The reason I ignore them is because they have no power. No statutory basis. They are a self-appointed, self-regulatory organisation that has been taken over by politically correct onanists.

They are no different from the green ink loonies who write to me every day apart from the fact that they have a letterhead.

Yours in solidarity.

18 May 2012 at 17:45  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Your Grace, nothing about their thought control policing policy. Bad form, ASA !

18 May 2012 at 17:49  
Blogger Youthpasta said...

It seems that to avoid admitting to being in the wrong in all areas they have decided to admit to being wrong in 1 area and hope that that will make everything better. I can only hope that, emboldened by the result of Your Grace's undertakings, C4M take them to task when they finally decide to take issue with the advert.

Sadly all this will still not address the overriding issue, that people should learn to accept being offended and quit whining about it. Protest against something, no problem, but for pity's sake don't just whine for it to be censored!

18 May 2012 at 17:55  
Blogger Anoneumouse said...

No Win No Fee

18 May 2012 at 18:04  
Blogger E.xtra S.ensory Blofeld + Tiddles said...

YP Said

"Sadly all this will still not address the overriding issue, that people should learn to accept being offended and quit whining about it. Protest against something, no problem, but for pity's sake don't just whine for it to be censored!"

Nicely put RigatoniBoy.


18 May 2012 at 18:31  
Blogger Owl said...

They have apologised for one point and have side stepped having to give an answer to all other points.

I have to agree with Guido, ignore these socialists who don't seem to have worked an honest day in their lives (I looked at their website, the council, ugh!) and are living quite nicely from this self appointed gravey train.

Just ridiculing them might also be an option.

18 May 2012 at 18:34  
Blogger E.xtra S.ensory Blofeld + Tiddles said...

What have we missed out on from His Grace, that this nonsense has diverted him from commenting on.

Ernst is listening to his Bouzouki music CD, in sympathy with Greece and its people and his memory of his lovely holidays spent in Corfu before drunken British tourists destroyed it


18 May 2012 at 18:38  
Blogger Oswin said...

Your Grace, having to some extent 'drawn blood from a stone' (a remarkable achievement!) I would now suggest that you comply, as succinctly as you are able, and in your own inimitable style, to the ASA's 'request' for the information that they require. The mailed fist, now draped in graciousness etc.

Of course, I fully understand that Your Grace might well wish to pound the wee buggers into the ground; but in truth, what would it serve?

Congratulations Your Grace, not only have you won, but probably taught a few manners, where others too, might benefit. Bravo! :o)

18 May 2012 at 18:45  
Blogger E.xtra S.ensory Blofeld + Tiddles said...

Ernst's favorite Greek sirtaki and his much loved Mother-in-law's, who was tragically taken from us last May 30 by NHS gross incompetence and cover up.

His Grace obliging.

E S Blofeld..All My Love Patty, You are never forgotten.

18 May 2012 at 18:47  
Blogger Ian R. Thorpe said...

I've followed this story without commenting so far. The whole thing seems to me to be more proof that there are certain minorities in this country who, far from being marginalised are in fact priviliged elites, above criticism even when it is phrased in the most moderate way.

And I don't think gays are very good at interior decorationg either. Places they have refurbished always look to me like a pox doctor's consulting room.

18 May 2012 at 19:16  
Blogger tory boys never grow up said...

Small earthquake no dead or injured!

18 May 2012 at 20:08  
Blogger Unknown said...

Phew! enjoy your martini! xx

18 May 2012 at 21:43  
Blogger bluedog said...

Congratulations, Your Grace. May your persecuters' withdrawal be permanent and not merely 'reculer pour mieux sauter'.

Having admitted that it is toothless and in the wrong, how long before the ASA concedes that its complainants were all dummy entries too?

If the ASA will not disclose their names, how does one know that these complaints even exist?

Why do tax-payers finance this useless bunch of charlatans and poseurs?

18 May 2012 at 23:28  
Blogger Mrs Proudie of Barchester said...

Goodness! And how upsetting Your Grace. Who could object to free speech and the sanctity of marriage? I mentioned the distress you were feeling and the unforgivable pressure these quango- folk were putting you under to Mr. Slope, my Lord's chaplain, after evensong this evening. 'All things considered Mrs Proudie, having weighed up the arguments on both sides, I'd advise His Grace to tell the buggers to f-off.' He has a way with words does Mr. Slope. Hope that brings some cheer - we at Barchester are behind you. Well, Mr. Slope is...but that's another story...

18 May 2012 at 23:33  
Blogger Mr Integrity said...

Your Grace,
Another David, another Goliath at least put off balance. Congratulations.

Your not the first but I hope that you might be the last to be set upon in such a domineering manner that might cause a change of under ware.

The devil finds work for idle hands and whilst I know that you are anything but idle, that is precisely why he has caused you to be distracted from your primary tasks.

God Bless.

19 May 2012 at 00:54  
Blogger OldSouth said...

Congratulations! The ASA are, bluntly, cowards who send threatening letters as if they have some sort of legal authority. Then when confronted specifically, they turn tail, and pretend they never did or said what they actually did do and say.

Which makes them mendacious cowards.

Illegitimi non carborundum, Your Grace. Stand tall.


19 May 2012 at 01:59  
Blogger non mouse said...

Benedicamus Domino, Your Grace.

19 May 2012 at 05:31  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

I suppose this needs to be solidified to make sure it doesn't happen again. However, it's a shame that quite a few good debate opportunities have passed by in the meantime. For instance, the absolute drubbing Sentamu got in the comments section of the Guardian a couple of days ago in response to his article. :)

19 May 2012 at 09:23  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...


Was he ever going to get anything else but a drubbing from CIF commentators? To be honest, it was about the same response I'd expect if Polly Toynbee wrote a piece for the Daily Mail.

19 May 2012 at 11:13  
Blogger Kiwi said...

Phew! It's been quite a ride - good on you YG for for not letting the buggers get you down! In hindsight though, and in the first instance, maybe the Arkell v Pressdram (1971) response would have been the most appropriate.

19 May 2012 at 12:04  
Blogger bluedog said...

Your Grace,

Your communicant wishes to apologise for any offense he has caused or harm that may have been suffered as a consequence of his assumption that the Advertising Standards Authority is an Authority.

It's not, ASA is a private company Advertising Standards Authority Limited, number 00733214, limited by guarantee and first registered 22nd August 1962. In addition, ASA Ltd has no share capital. Your communicant believes that this information should be available on the ASA website, but it does not seem to be. However, at the foot of each web page on the ASA site the words Advertising Standards Authority Ltd appear in very small print together with the ASA registered address. Your communicant has yet to find any record of the company number on the ASA Ltd website.

So much for 'About ASA'.

Furthermore, the ASA 'Councilors' appear to be directors of ASA Ltd.

These facts beg certain questions.

Why does ASA seem to hide its corporate status? Most 'Authorities' are established by statute and are accountable to an elected assembly. ASA Ltd as a company is not accountable to any elected assembly, and being without shareholders, it is not obvious to whom ASA Ltd is accountable at all.

One can safely assume that the finest legal minds have been commissioned to validate ASA's promotion of itself as an Authority when it is a company and there can be no suggestion that ASA is acting in a manner that implies either 'passing-off' or misleading and deceptive conduct.

But why would directors wish to present themselves as 'Councilors'?

And who is the guarantor of ASA Ltd?

Why does the 'Annual Report' list politically correct key performance indicators rather than the financial results of a corporation?

If there is no share capital and therefore no shareholders, how are the directors (Councilors) elected? The ASA announces that directors are appointed.

By whom are the directors appointed?

In most companies, the board of directors elects the Chairman.

Did the board of ASA Ltd elect the current Chairman, and if not, who did?

Sorry to bang on, Your Grace, but the more one looks the more curious ASA Ltd becomes.

19 May 2012 at 12:36  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

AIB: "Was he ever going to get anything else but a drubbing from CIF commentators? To be honest, it was about the same response I'd expect if Polly Toynbee wrote a piece for the Daily Mail."

Well, no, but I wonder why he wrote an article in the Guardian in the first place. A sucker for punishment maybe!

19 May 2012 at 13:31  
Blogger Gnostic said...


Bravo, Your Grace. Bravo!

19 May 2012 at 14:03  
Blogger Berserker said...

Late into this fray but a couple of thoughts:

The ASA Codes are nothing more than the representations of advertisers, marketing and media people. Rather narrow, what?

Their money comes from levies from the the above, ie advertising space and mail shots etc. Nice little earner, I think.

19 May 2012 at 16:55  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...


I don't know why anyone bothers writing for the Guardian given its tiny readership. It's probably because they don't let him use long words in the Sun on Sunday.

19 May 2012 at 18:26  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

AIB: "I don't know why anyone bothers writing for the Guardian given its tiny readership."

Good point. I pay to read the Times, and their circulation isn't that much better, but I read the others online for free. I'd have thought Sentamu's views would be much better suited to the Daily Mail. Perhaps he just didn't want to preach to the choir again.

19 May 2012 at 19:12  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

I'm kind of disappointed that he didn't "preach to choir", because a good deal about how Christians should relate to others could probably do with being said.

19 May 2012 at 19:43  
Blogger Naomi King said...

PROV 10:22 The blessing of the LORD, it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it.

20 May 2012 at 09:50  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

The Guardian had another interesting story in it yesterday:

"Dr Robert Spitzer apologises for 'fatally flawed' study, published in 2001, which claimed gay people could be 'cured' if properly motivated."

"The survey, published in 2001, looked at "reparative therapy" and was hailed by religious and social conservatives in America as proof that gay people could successfully become straight if they were motivated to do so."

20 May 2012 at 14:24  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Hard cheese DanJ0, no standing in a line, with your coat collar pulled up and hat strategically pulled down over your face, for you then. Still, You could try rolling down a welsh mountain head first. Good luck !

20 May 2012 at 15:24  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Inspector: "Hard cheese DanJ0, no standing in a line, with your coat collar pulled up and hat strategically pulled down over your face, for you then."

Isn't that you outside of G.A.Y when your, ahem, impulses become a little too much for you?

20 May 2012 at 15:52  

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