A recent press release has announced that on 11 January 2018 a Memorandum of Understanding (“MoU”) was signed between the Cyprus Radio Television Authority (“CRTA”) and the Cyprus Advertising Regulation Organization (“CARO”) for the purpose upgrading and promoting the cooperation between them.
The CRTA is the competent authority regulating private broadcasting and media organisations in Cyprus. It was established by the Radio and Television Stations Law of 1998, yet it is an independent body whose decisions are directly enforceable without the need for approval of any other body or the state. It is the body responsible for monitoring, among others, adherence to its Advertising Code regarding the length, content and placement of advertisements.
CARO on the other hand, is a voluntary, non-profit organisation formed by members of the broadcasting sector as a response to the need for industry self-regulation. CARO’s aim, among others, is to promote ethical standards in advertising, therefore its powers are restricted to issuing recommendations based on the relevant Cypriot advertising legislation as well as on its own Code of Conduct (the Cyprus Advertising Code) which follows the respective code of the International Chamber of Commerce.
Some of the MoU’s main provisions are the following:
- In relation to complaints it receives, the CRTA may request CARO’s opinion and then CARO may inform the CRTA about the steps it took to resolve the issue and/or the outcome of the investigation it carried out in relation to the complaint.
- In cases of non-compliance with CARO’s recommendations/decision, CARO may brief the CRTA accordingly, indicate any advertising points that, in its opinion, violate the CRTA Advertising Code and/or the Radio and Television Stations Law of 1998. Following such a briefing, the CRTA may instigate its own proceedings.
- CARO may participate in consultations for the introduction and/or reform of advertising legislation.
- The CRTA and CARO may issue user friendly advertising guides for consumers that codify the relevant provisions of both the legislation and the advertising codes.
- The two organisations may exchange information between them such as information about complaints they receive, advertisement content, the procedure they use to respond to consumer concerns or issues etc.
- In order to enhance the legality of an advertisement before it goes live the two organisations agreed to promote CARO’s advertisement advisory pre-control service.
- The CRTA may assign to CARO the overseeing of preparation and the negotiation of reports, in relation to a certain class of advertisements that is under examination.
It is evident from the above that the MoU will undoubtedly raise awareness about ethical practices in advertisement as well as bring a new dimension to the enforcement of sanctions for any violations of advertising standards. The MoU marks an important step towards safeguarding and maintaining the public interest through a friendlier advertising environment that meets both the legal and the ethical standards required.
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