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4A's issues advisory on non-discrimination advertising policies and practices
(Oct. 26, 2011) The American Association of Advertising Agencies has released guidance for its members in addressing non-discrimination vendor policies and procedures. The recommendation comes following new requirements issued by the FCC requiring broadcasters to "certify that their advertising sales contracts contain nondiscrimination clauses and do not discriminate on the basis of race or ethnicity."
The move is intended to eliminate the practice of "No Urban Dictates" and "No Spanish Dictates" in which advertisers exclude black and Hispanic radio stations from being considered for advertising buys and placements.
"Many of our members have made it a goal to provide equal opportunity for all media vendors, supplier and agents," said Bill Koenigsberg, President and Chief Executive Officer, Horizon Media and Chairman, 4A's Media Policy Committee. "We want to make sure all members have the same information to work with and continue to expand their outreach including, but not limited to, proper training, education and internal guidelines that provide a forum for open discussions. Access to all makes for better advertising."
The policy framework also includes consideration of a vendor complaint review process.
"Working with the 4A's and its Media Policy Committee in the adoption of non-discrimination media vendor policy and establishing a process to address these issues represents a historic moment," said Sherman K. Kizart, Managing Director of Kizart Media Partners. "I look forward to expanding our current discussions on how committee members can help bridge the gap in opportunities afforded to all minority-owned and minority-targeted media platforms for their clients."
Other advocacy groups and industry professionals were pleased by the development, but expressed cautions about areas that the 4A's recommendation did not address.
"The advertising nondiscriminatory policy statement is a great starting point," said Adonis Hoffman, Adjunct Professor of Marketing, Advertising and Public Policy at Georgetown University. "Ultimately, resolving this problem will hinge on two very simple principles: (1) the decision by agency CEOs to make sure that their down-the-line junior staffers abide by the spirit of the rules, not just the letter, and (2) the decision by agency CEOs to buy minority media, not just tolerate them."
"There should be some insurance for retaliation against a minority vendor who raises a red flag," Hoffman added. "It is human nature to foreclose opportunities on anyone who says you are not playing fair. "There are questions as to whether the agency itself has the capacity to conduct a fair and credible review. Self-regulation in that instance can only go so far."
Hoffman was Senior Vice President and General Counsel at the 4As from 2000-2010, and before that was a senior advisor to FCC Chairman Bill Kennard and actively worked on these issues in his former roles. Today, he advises advertisers, agencies and media companies on legal issues and leadership strategies.
The Minority Media and Telecommunications Council commended the 4a's for the announcement. "This historic achievement will directly combat the invidious "No Urban" and "No Spanish Dictates" that cost minority broadcasters millions of dollars annually. MMTC understands that 4A's new policy will extend to all media, including broadcast, print, cable, and online advertising."
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