The Pilkington Committee’s comments on itv advertising also clearly reflected its belief in, and consequent anxiety about, the supposedly unique power of the medium to influence and mould the minds and actions of viewers. It emphasised that the itv ’s statutory responsibility to maintain so far as possible a high general standard of programmes applied equally to the advertisements. At the same time it had to acknowledge that, because of the mandatory force given by the Act to the recommendations of the Authority’s statutory Advertising Advisory Committee, the standards applied in the control of the advertisements had not been established solely by the Authority itself. The Committee did not like this division of responsibility and thought it should end. Further, while welcoming the assurances given by both Authority and programme companies that (although advertising was the dominant source of itv revenue) it had none the less to be treated as secondary to the main purpose of providing a good public television service,1 the Committee was less happy with the arrangement which allotted to the companies and their joint ‘copy committee’ the practical tasks of advance scrutiny and approval of the advertisements offered for transmission, leaving only ‘difficult’ cases for consideration by the itv and/or its advisers. It would indicate a greater sense of public responsibility if the ita’s advertising control staff played a more central role.
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