As part of its ongoing industry reforms, the Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria ( APCON) have said that it would commence with a new standard of vetting of advertisements for the advertising industry starting from April 1, 2022. 

Under the new vetting regime, the Council indicated that, going forth, only licensed advertising organizations would be  permitted to apply to the Advertising Standards Panel (ASP) for advertisements vetting . 

The ASP is statutorily the highest advertisement vetting machinery as it is provided for in the APCON establishing laws. 

The Council disclosed that the new vetting guidelines was created based on the same premise that, if adhered to by practitioners, it would create the conducive environment to further reduce unlawful and unethical advertising practices in the industry, and more so, it would serve to encourage the businesses of APCON – licensed corporate organizations 

 Vetting, by definition, is the process of submitting advertisement materials for a formal and thorough examination by the Advertising Standards Panel ( ASP), prior to the granting of approval or clearance for such materials to be publicized, aired or printed.

The basic advertisement principle, going by the APCON Act,  presupposes that certain specific following conditions must be fulfilled, and that including that –  All advertisements must be legal, decent, honest, truthful, respectful and in addition, must be mindful of Nigeria’s culture.

Again, that advertisements should be prepared with a high sense of social responsibility and also, it should avoid misinformation.

In continuation, all advertisements should conform to the principles of fair competition that is generally accepted in business, and of fair comments expected in free human communication process.

It must be aimed towards enhancing public confidence in advertising and also, it should always be in the interest of the consumer and wider society at large.

The scope of vetting applications going by APCON’s already existing  guidelines applies to – 

All individuals registered as Advertising Practitioners.

-All organizations, corporate bodies and individuals which/who use advertising services.

Furthermore, according to the stipulated guidelines, all advertisements and sales promotions require pre-exposure vetting before publication/screening. 

Turn-around time for obtaining approval are 8 hours, 16 hours, 24 hours, 48hours and 2 weeks respectively, and conditions apply.  

The rule further states that, t is a sanctionable offence to cause to be aired or published in the print, advertisements which have not been approved by the ASP.

Judging from all of the above conditions,  some pertinent questions  comes to mind at this point that is, in the event that the new guideline takes effect as planned by April 1,  who vets the  practitioners who continues to be unregistered by this date, but who may still carry on the practice albeit illegally and outside the law.

Would APCON not be creating inadvertent limitations around itself should the new vetting regime take effect ? For instance, should the right of vetting application  be limited only to corporate licensed advertising entities, would the system not have encouraged illegal operators who may continue with there nefarious acts having no recourse to  APCON stipulations? 

Could it be safe to assume that APCON now has the needed capacity to enhance its policing machinery enough and is not  able to arrest all attendant negative fallouts and the likely surge of illegal operators who may not even border to vet their advert materials before exposure?. All these are questions that are begging for answers and which must be examined and re-examined as we look forward to commencement of the new vetting regime on April 1.

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