ARCON Begins Enforcement of Digital Ad, Content without Pre-Exposure Approval
The Advertising Regulatory Council of Nigeria (ARCON) has disclosed that it will begin the implementation of the full legal enforcement of the digital advertising regulation on un-vetted digital content from 1 March 2023 to sanitise the industry.
This means that it will begin sanctioning skit makers, comedians, influencers, content creators/producers, bloggers, vloggers, and others without pre-exposure approvals before putting out an advertisement of any kind on social media as well as other digital platforms.
The Director-General, ARCON, Dr. Olalekan Fadolapo, made this known at an Interactive Stakeholders Session with Digital Agencies, Bloggers, and Content Creators held at L’eola Hotel, Maryland, Ikeja, Lagos.
In his words, “There are two types of adverts that these skit makers expose on their platforms; one is self-produced adverts. For example, a skit maker can produce an advert for himself and expose it on his own platform or it can be a third-party advert for exposure; either way, the advert must be vetted before exposure. We want everybody to understand that we are all gatekeepers of advertising,” he said.
He explained that the group place unethical unverified claims, and misinformation which violates the Nigerian Code of Advertising Practice on social media and digital platforms.
He explained that the vetting window by the Advertising Standard Panel, ASP, is open for 8 hours, 16 hours and 10 days.
“By this gathering, brand owners, digital agencies, secondary digital media space owners (i.e. bloggers, vloggers, influencers, comedians, skit makers, etc), and other advertising stakeholders in the digital/online media space are to obtain pre-exposure approval of all advertisements, advertising, and marketing communications in accordance with the Nigerian Code of Advertising Practice and the ARCON Act No. 23 of 2022. With effect from March 1st, it will be a different ballgame with defaulters as they will be fined N500,000 for non-compliance.
“Let me reiterate that ARCON is not regulating social media. We are regulating advertising, advertisement, and marketing communications across the platforms.”
Thereafter, Charles Odenigbo, a legal practitioner gave a detailed explanation of the provisions of the law as it pertains to advertising regulations and the consequences of breaching them.
He said, “Except for public service announcements, goodwill messages, obituaries, and vacancies, all advertisements, advertising, and marketing communications shall be presented for vetting and must obtain the approval of ASP. It is mandatory for all advertisers and agencies to obtain an ASP certificate of approval and for media houses to demand the ASP’s certificate of approval in the case of direct media buying before placing any such advertisements.
“Under ARCON Act, we have offenses under section 34 and section 54; we also have article 145 of the Nigeria Code of Advertising Practice which deals with sanctions and also carries penalties. The vetting guidelines also carry categories of adverts that you should know are to be vetted before you release them on your platforms. It also comes with its own sanctions. Four communities of laws and regulations tied together are the things that will definitely affect you one way or the other.
“On Air Personality, content producer, content creator, brand owner, whatever name you are called, the moment you descend into the arena of marketing communications, advertising, and advertisement, the new ARCON Act moves into operation, whether you are aware or not,” Odenigbo pronounced.