Don't let the truth get in the way of a Mike Hosking opinion piece.

Pre-election he told the nation that only those on the Maori Electoral Roll could give a party vote to the Maori Party.

This week he claims the Advertising Standards Authority is taxpayer funded.

Both are incorrect - researching a topic before spouting your opinion goes a long way toward establishing credibility, Hosking.


For the record, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) is not taxpayer funded. Not now, not ever in its 44-year history.

Funding comes solely from the advertising industry (advertisers, agencies and media owners).

This funding allows the ASA to set the standards that advertisers are expected to meet and to ensure compliance of these standards. That's where the complaints component of the ASA work comes in.

Hosking's opinion piece is in itself a complaint. That's what happens when you live in a democracy. It's called freedom of speech.

Hosking has the freedom to say what he likes in public, even if it is incorrect.

The public have the freedom to complain about an advertisement they think is misleading or in breach of community standards. Yes, some are frivolous and silly, but many are not.

The only part of Hosking's rant about the ASA that was correct was this: "These sort of bodies are no longer needed due to the fact that the market largely takes care of itself."

Exactly right.


The advertising industry is industry regulated - the market IS taking care of itself, and doing a good job in the process.

Taxpayers make absolutely no contribution at all to industry working to ensure every ad is a responsible ad. But the taxpayer benefits from industry complying with standards through the ASA Codes.

Hosking also claims that in the past month no decisions were made.

In this he is being disingenuous. In the year to date 308 decisions have been made on complaints about advertisements. 52 per cent went on to the Complaints Board for determination. Of these, 65 per cent were in breach of the codes and the ads were changed or withdrawn.

What isn't so visible is work that is done to keep Codes of Practice up to date, the training within the industry to ensure advertising complies with codes, the triaging that is done when a complaint is received and the ads that are voluntarily removed by advertisers. It isn't unreasonable to expect a responsible broadcaster to investigate these sorts of things before launching a tirade.

So, rather than the Mike Hosking implication that the ASA is some sort of fat-cat government department, the organisation is in fact independent and privately funded.

Hosking would clearly benefit from being better educated. The ASA information pack is in the mail, alongside the invitation to come and see what we actually do.

The Press Council would be the appropriate body to complain to - another industry body that he'd probably like the government to ban, but that would make me just another "dullard, whinger and time waster". However, as an advocate of freedom of speech, I'm really not too bothered.

- Hon Heather Roy is Chair of the Advertising Standards Authority