1. When you lodge a complaint with the ARB we request certain information. This is to ascertain, as far as possible, that you are a real person, that you are not a competitor pretending to be a consumer and that multiple complaints do in fact come from separate individuals.
  2. We share your name with the Advertiser against whom you complained, and we publish your name in our decisions, if the matter reaches that point. If you do not wish for this to occur, you need to withdraw your complaint.
  3. We do not share any of your other information without your permission.
  4. Your information is securely stored on our server.
  5. You may at any time request details about what information we have about you.
  6. We may from time to time use your information to examine complaint trends based on demographics. In doing so, we will at no time link your name to such trends analysis.
  7. You may at any time before a decision is made, withdraw the complaint and ask us to erase your data.
  8. However, once a decision is made, we are required to keep a full record for our legal protection in the event that the matter is challenged at a later stage.
  9. You may contact info@arb.org.za for any information in this regard at any time.

Consumer protection through responsible advertising

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What is the Advertising Regulatory Board?

At the end of September 2018, the Advertising Standards Authority of South Africa (ASA) was ordered to close its doors and liquidation proceedings were started. The industry refused to sit by and allow self-regulation to die and immediately launched a new entity called the Advertising Regulatory Body.

Is the ARB binding on broadcasters?

The ASA derived its power primarily from the Electronic Communications Act which, in s55, makes adherence to the Code of Advertising Practice a prerequisite of license conditions. The ASA was thus able to order broadcasters to withdraw any advertising ruled against.

In a stroke of thoughtful legal drafting, the ECA actually allows for a change of entity. The definition of Advertising Standards Authority states, “the entity which regulates the content of advertising, or any entity that replaces it but has the same functions.” In other words, the new entity will fall into this definition and still be binding. It is true that certain other regulations that recognise the ASA are not as thoughtfully drafted, and the ARB will have to lobby for regulatory recognition going forward.

Can I get MAC points?

How do the ASA and ARB tie up?

The starting point is that the ARB is a totally new legal entity with a new MOI and a new Board. However, because it takes over the administration of the Code of Advertising Practice, there are certain challenges regarding how previous rulings will be regarded.

The questions around this are best answered by referring to the MOI of the ARB which states:

3.1 The objects of the Company are to:

3.1.1. self-regulate the content of advertising in South Africa with quality decisions and fair process;

3.1.1  be a securely funded centre of excellence for self-regulation of advertising and associated industry needs and determine whether advertising contravenes the Code of Advertising Standards;

3.1.2 address and fill the lacuna left by the liquidation of the Advertising Standards Authority of South Africa (1995/000784/08), which lacuna creates a risk that consumers will be exploited, and the advertising and marketing industry will be brought into disrepute;

3.1.3 adopt and enforce, as far as reasonably possible, the existing and established Code of Advertising practice in the Republic (as administered until now by the Advertising Standards Authority of South Africa (1995/000784/08)), which sets out the rules which the marketing and advertising industry agree to follow, which indicates to the consumer and the public the steps that are taken to ensure, through self-imposed regulation, that advertisements can be trusted, and which provides a system of recourse for those who may have been harmed or prejudiced by an advertisement; ...


3.2  The members of the Company declare that:

3.2.1 They regard themselves as bound by, and hereby adopt as precedent, the principles of the decision-making organs of the Advertising Standards Authority of South Africa (1995/000784/08), as at the date that the aforementioned ceased to trade; and

3.2.2 All existing, binding decisions of the decision-making organs of the Advertising Standards Authority of South Africa (1995/000784/08) will continue in force and effect and will be given effect to by the Company.

3.2.3 They regard themselves as bound by, and undertake to bind their members, to the jurisdiction of the Company and the provisions of the Code of Advertising Practice. For the avoidance of doubt, the members acknowledge that any reference in the Advertising Code of Practice to the Advertising Standards Authority will be read as if it refers to the Company, mutatis mutandis...

Will it be the same Code?

The Code of Advertising Practice has never been the property of the ASA but that of the industry, based largely on the International Codes. In addition, the Code carries a number of appendices that are written by and carried for member organisations. The industry is now appointing the ARB to administer this Code.

Like the ASA, the ARB will facilitate a code review process. The last process was completed under the ASA and will be published by LexisNexis shortly. The changes are live on the website.

Who is funding the ARB?

Does a non-member have to listen to the ARB?

No. The ARB is a self-regulatory, membership-based entity. It makes decisions for the guidance of its members and broadcasters.

When the ARB receives a complaint against a non-member, it will always give that company an opportunity to respond. If the company fails to respond, or indicates that it does not regard the ARB as binding, a decision will be made simply to guide the members and broadcasters.

However, the non-member should note that:

  • Broadcasters are bound in terms of the Electronic Communications Act;
  • Other media may be members or may regard the decision as binding on them.

How do I complain?

Am I a member? How do I become a member?




These organisations are members of the ARB and as such, their members are also bound by the rulings of the ARB.

If you are an advertising agency and have applied for a tender, you may require this documentation

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