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WASPA lays down the law on advertising subscription services to kids

Released: 10 March 2009

The Wireless Application Service Providers' Association of South Africa (WASPA) has set out clear television advertising regulations for its members in a bid to protect minors from exposure to inappropriate adverts for cellular subscription services.

WASPA, and the television broadcasters, have ruled that no advertisements for any cellular content or subscription service may flight during children's television viewing times or during educational programmes.

The new guidelines are supported by all major television broadcasters in South Africa including M-Net/DSTV, the SABC and e.tv. Broadcaster guidelines and WASPA's Code of Conduct also restrict the times and media that WASPs may use to advertise services that contain PG-rated or adult content as well as the actual content that the ads may contain.

Said Ilonka Gray, media monitor at WASPA: "WASPA takes a hard line on advertising to children in line with its goals of protecting kids from harmful content and promoting an ethical WASP industry. We insist that our members must adhere to our Code of Conduct as well as the specific guidelines and policies set out by the country's broadcasters when they show adverts on television because ethical behaviour by WASPs is in the interests of consumers and the industry alike."

WASPA's Code of Conduct aims to ensure that ads from WASPs do not contain objectionable and misleading material, especially if these ads may be seen by children. The advertising rules commit WASPA members to ensuring that their advertising material does not contain any explicit sexual conduct as defined in the Films and Publications Act, unless it displayed in adult media.

Any age restrictions on the content the WASP is providing must be clearly marked and the service provide must have an Adult Verification System in place for access to that content or service.

Each television broadcaster also has its own set of rules for the advertising of subscription services, but all will not carry any advert for adult services (including dating and 'hot babes') during prime time (before 10pm) or any adverts that contain explicitly violent or sexual content at any time of the day.

E.tv insists that all adult content WASPs need to be members of WASPA and abide by the Code of Conduct before it will accept their adverts. It only allows adult content commercials to be shown in 18 rated movies, no matter what the time of the day.

"South Africa's broadcasters are to be commended for taking a tough stand on subscription service advertising in the interests of their younger viewers," said Gray. "We urge our members to consult their rules and WASPA's Code of Conduct before they even compile a new advert in their own interests and those of South Africa's youth."

The WASPA advertising rules can be viewed at: http://www.waspa.org.za/code/advert-rules.shtml

Should you believe a WASPA member has broken these rules, you can lodge a complaint by going to http://www.waspa.org.za/code/complaint.shtml and following the process outlined there.



WASPA represents the mobile development; value added services and content services community in South Africa. After lobbying the mobile operators and WASPs in late 2003 for an industry body, WASPA's formative meeting was held in August 2004. Membership of WASPA was made mandatory by the mobile operators and TV stations for any company doing value added services in South Africa.

WASPA's remit is to promote and self-regulate the WASP industry. As part of the self-regulatory component of WASPA, there is the now internationally recognized and emulated self-regulatory regime for mobile value added services that includes the WASPA Code of Conduct & Advertising Rules. WASPA's Code of Conduct regulates inter alia, competitions, chat, adult services, spam, CRM, advertising of services,subscription services and pricing. The first version of the Code was passed in June 2004 and implemented on 1 September 2005. It has been updated numerous times as the need has arisen.

Enforcement of the Code & Advertising Rules is achieved by a novel quasi-judicial system that consists of a procedure for lodging and responding to complaints where it is thought the Code is being contravened. Adherence to the Code and the Advertising rules is mandatory for all providers operating in South Africa.

ICT lawyers acting as WASPA adjudicators will find on the merits and have the power to suspend, fine, expel any WASP or Information Provider found to contravene the Code rules. Adjudications are enforced through contractual provisions in all WASP agreements. There is also a 3-person appeals panel as well as an emergency panel.

Issued by:

Ivan Booth
Reliable Sources PR
082 851 7419
ivan (at) reliablesources.co.za