The Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr Allan Kyerematen, has said the ministry and other key stakeholders were intensifying efforts to get the Advertising Industry Bill passed in 2019 to help sanitise the sector.
He explained that while the statutory processes to get the bill passed in 2016 were completed, it unfortunately lapsed with that parliament and, therefore, the processes had to be started all over.
As part of the renewed processes, the Trade Ministry and the Advertising Association of Ghana (AAG) engaged some key stakeholders last Thursday in a consultative forum to review and fine-tune the bill, which will be subsequently presented again to cabinet.
The stakeholders included managers of media institutions, the Ghana Standards Authority, the Ministry of Information, the Ministry of Trade and Industry, the Chartered Institute of Marketing Ghana, the Institute of Public Relations and academia.
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The bill will establish an Advertising Council to regulate advertising, register practitioners and license advertising companies.
It also defines advertising, provides a professional code of conduct and ethics, as well as sanctions for recalcitrant practitioners and advertising institutions.
The preamble to the Advertising Industry Bill, 2016, which is currently under review, states that the advertising industry had grown extensively over the last three decades with the AAG trying on its own to regulate the industry, through the promotion of voluntary compliance and moral persuasion.
“This originally worked effectively because newspapers and the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation were the only media that had in-house vetting committees to ensure that advertisements conformed to the standards and regulations of the industry,” it said.
It said due to the opening of the floodgate for a myriad of media channels, agencies and clients, it had become impossible to regulate the sector with the existing mechanisms and the absence of legislation.
In a speech read on his behalf, Mr Kyerematen said both the positive and negative impacts of advertising on consumers, as well as the economy, were well known.
“And that is why efforts had to be intensified to pass the bill to help inject some sanity into the industry by enforcing ethics and international best practices,” he said.
The Executive Director of the AAG, Mr Francis Dadzie, for his part, expressed gratitude to The Business Sector Advocacy Challenge (BUSAC) Fund for its financial support, which was helping stakeholders to assign pragmatic timelines to processes at getting the bill passed.
He said the bill would be presented to cabinet before the close of January 2019.
Mr Dadzie underscored the urgent need for the legislation and indicated that it would help address the many challenges in the industry, such as advertising substandard products in the media and deceitful advertising to protect the interest of consumers and ensure sanity in the industry.
He said the excesses in the sector were reducing public confidence in advertising, which was not healthy for the sector and the economy.
The President of the AAG, Mr Torgbor Mensah, charged members of the association to uphold the good standards of the industry to make it sustainable to deliver its quota to national development.