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FAQs

Answers to some of our more regular questions about CAP and BCAP and how the system works.

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    About CAP

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 About CAP and BCAP

When were CAP and BCAP established?
Who sits on CAP and BCAP?
What are the responsibilities of CAP and BCAP?
What is the Advertising Advisory Committee (AAC)?
How do Government and other statutory regulators fit in?

The Advertising Codes

What do the Codes cover?
Are all products regulated according to the same rules?
How are the Codes developed?
Is there any guidance or help available on the Codes?

How the system is governed

How is the system funded?
Who administers the Codes?
Keeping up to date with the latest developments

Contact us

When were CAP and BCAP established?

The Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) was established in 1961 by the Advertising Association to write and enforce a Code for non-broadcast advertisements.  The British Code of Advertising Practice, which is now the UK Code of Non-broadcast Advertising, Sales Promotion and Direct Marketing.  It was set up in response to the recent introduction of statutory regulation for television advertising and because the industry realised that if advertisements were to be effective, then consumers needed to trust them.

The following year (1962) CAP established the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) under an independent Chairman to adjudicate on complaints about ads that seemed to breach the new Code.

TV and radio advertising has been subject to statutory regulation since the first commercials were aired in 1955 and 1973 respectively. However, this all changed in 2004 when Ofcom took the decision to contract out day-to-day responsibility for regulating broadcast advertising to the Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice (BCAP) and the ASA.

BCAP was established in November 2004 and inherited the existing TV and Radio Advertising Codes from Ofcom.

This created, for the first time, a single regulator that consumers could contact about advertising across all media: the ASA ‘one-stop shop’.

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Who sits on CAP and BCAP?

CAP comprises trade and professional organisations of the advertising and sales promotion industries. The members represent advertisers, media space owners and advertising agencies. A list of CAP members is available on our website.

Similarly, BCAP members include trade and professional organisations of the advertising industries plus representatives of broadcasters licensed by Ofcom. The members represent all aspects of the industry including advertisers, agencies, media owners and interactive marketers. Click here to view BCAP members

James Best is the Chairman of CAP and BCAP. Visit the Our executive section for other team members' biographies. 

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What are the responsibilities of CAP and BCAP?

  • Write, review and amend the Advertising Codes
  • Produce Help Notes and Guidance for the industry
  • Run training events 
  • Provide free pre-publication advice on non-broadcast advertisements to advertisers, agencies and media. This service is confidential from competitors. 
  • Proactively monitor ads and co-ordinate the activities of its members to achieve the highest degree of compliance with the Codes.

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What is the Advertising Advisory Committee (AAC)?

The Advertising Advisory Committee (AAC) was established in January 2005 to provide independent, third party-advice to BCAP.
 
Its role is to ensure that the concerns of viewers and listeners are taken into account whenever the UK Code of Broadcast Advertising is revised or updated. BCAP must ask the AAC for input whenever it decides to change the Codes and must provide a formal response to the advice given.

A list of of AAC members can be found here.

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How do the Government and other statutory regulators fit in?

The Advertising Codes are underpinned by consumer protection legislation and reflect UK and EU law.

CAP and BCAP maintain an open dialogue with Government about its views on advertising and the principles of good regulation.

BCAP has a co-regulatory partnership with Ofcom for TV and radio advertising. BCAP is responsible for writing and maintaining the UK Code of Broadcast Advertising, but any major changes to the rules must be approved by Ofcom.

CAP and BCAP have a close relationship with Trading Standards, which provides advice on whether the Codes accurately reflect consumer protection legislation for misleading and unfair advertising.

CAP and BCAP work with statutory sector regulators in areas where there is, or might be, regulatory overlap. Such bodies include the Financial Conduct Authority, the Food Standards Agency, the Gambling Commission and the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency.

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The Advertising Codes

What do the Codes cover?

The Advertising Codes apply to marketing communications across all media.

The UK Code of Non-broadcast Advertising, Sales Promotion and Direct Marketing covers ads that appear in a wide array of media including newspapers, magazines, cinema, billboards, mailings, leaflets, paid for space online, sales promotions (wherever they appear), texts, e-mails and on UK based company websites.

The UK Code of Broadcast Advertising (The BCAP Code) applies to traditional 'spot' ads on TV channels and radio stations licensed by Ofcom as well as teleshopping, interactive services and text services.

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Are all products regulated according to the same rules?

The main principles of the Codes apply to all ads: advertisements should not mislead, harm or offend.

However, certain products or services are subject to further specific rules. For instance, products or services that have the potential to harm or which are age-restricted, such as alcohol or gambling, are subject to additional restrictions above and beyond the general rules. The Codes also provide further clarity in some complex areas such as finance, the environment, and health and beauty.

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How are the Codes developed?

The Codes are owned, written, revised and enforced by CAP and BCAP. The Codes are developed in response to public policy, changes in legislation, emerging technologies and advertising trends, as well as in response to social or political concern. The Codes are regularly updated and are periodically reviewed to make sure they remain relevant.

CAP and BCAP also publicly consult on significant changes to the Advertising Codes.  You can find out more about our consultations here.

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Is there any guidance or help available on the Codes?

Help and guidance is readily available. This website contains copies of the Advertising Codes, Help Notes and other online advice.

The CAP Copy Advice team provides free, confidential and expert advice on non-broadcast ads prior to their launch. 

Anyone planning a TV ad for UK licensed terrestrial and satellite channels should submit it to Clearcast for approval. Radio advertisers should submit their ads to the Radio Advertising Clearance Centre (RACC).

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How the system is governed

How is the system funded?

The system is funded by a voluntary levy on advertising spend. This is collected at arms-length on behalf of CAP, BCAP and the ASA by two bodies: the Advertising Standards Board of Finance (Asbof) and the Broadcast Advertising Standards Board of Finance (Basbof).

The levy is set at 0.1% of advertising space costs and 0.2% of Mailsort contracts.

The levy is collected at arms-length to maintain the independence of the system. It ensures that the system is properly funded, whilst ensuring that CAP, BCAP and ASA regulatory decisions are not influenced by who may or may not be funding the system.

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Who administers the Codes?

The ASA is the independent watchdog responsible for administering the Codes. It responds to complaints from consumers and industry about advertisements that appear to be misleading, harmful or offensive. If a complaint is upheld, then the ad has to be withdrawn or amended.

The ASA Council is the body that adjudicates on investigations of complaints. The Council has 13 members, two-thirds of whom are independent of the advertising industry. Members are appointed by the independent ASA Chairman, Rt Hon Lord Smith of Finsbury.  Further information is available on the ASA website.

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Keeping up to date with the latest developments

To keep up to date with developments in advertising regulation you can register to receive e-mail news alerts from CAP and BCAP as well as the CAP Copy Advice team.

Insight
Insight is a fortnightly newsletter containing advice and tips on how to get your ads and online marketing right. It contains:

  • Analysis of the latest ASA rulings
  • Information about updated or new advertising compliance guidance
  • Changes to the Advertising Codes
  • Reminders about how to comply with key sections of the Codes

Update
Update is a news alert email letting you know any changes to the news section of the CAP website. It contains: 

  • Major regulatory announcements
  • Announcements of public consultations 
  • Other corporate news

To receive news from CAP and BCAP please register or login and sign up. (if you have already registered on the Copy Advice website, you can use the same login details.)

Through here you can also sign up to receive an e-mail alerting you to the publication of weekly ASA adjudications.

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Contact us

To contact CAP and BCAP please go to the Contact us page and submit your query. 

For advice on your campaign, please go to Advice and Training.

To contact the ASA please go to the ASA website.
 
If you wish to complain about an advertisement, please complete the ASA’s online complaint form.

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