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Legislation should be set to regulate the contents of advertisements

By Cherry-Ng Wing Ling Oct 28, 2013 1083 Words
Legislation should be set to regulate the contents of advertisements There are so many advertisements existing in nowadays society, however, number of the sellers were accused and being complain in the past years because of the misleading statements or misrepresentations shown in their advertisements. Since Hong Kong still does not have a comprehensive law which the misleading advertisement will lead to obstruction of fair competition as well as misinform the audience, something has to be done by the government. It is necessarily for the government to set up legislation to regulate the contents of advertisements. Although there are at present a number of applicable ordinances regulating the contents of advertisements in Hong Kong, Hong Kong still does not have a piece of comprehensive legislation to regulate advertising practice. The aim of setting up a comprehensive legislation is to protect the general public so that they will not misguide by the advertisements and lead to unnecessary loss. According to the chairperson of Consumer Council, what government should do is to enact a cross-sector statute so as to forbid the use of unfair trade practices by traders and the proposed statute should apply to all products, services and industries. For instance, the advertisement about sliming is not control by the ordinances, so the consumer is unprotected that the government should safeguard the right of the consumer. Hong Kong can also take the England’s “Control of Misleading Advertisements Regulation” as reference that it is a specific law to regulate advertising practices. When there is a comprehensive law being adopted, the government needs not to set up codes of practices according to different industries anymore and it will be easier to implement the law. Misleading advertising not only can lead to obstruction of fair competition, it is also fruitless to Hong Kong as its deceptive nature is likely to injure its competitors. Due to the powerfulness of the advertisements, many of the places are adopting voluntary codes to control themselves. Nevertheless, not every industry follows the rule and even disrupts the inmost jurisdictions. Having the risk of violation, it is a must for the government to set up the legislation which empower an officer to take action against the publication of misguiding advertisements when it disrupts the others’ interest. Besides, some may attack others intentionally or unintentionally to maximize their own benefits. To avoid damaging the other producers’ interest, legislation should be set to monitor the contents of the advertisements. In the view of consumer council, advertisement also act as an important role of Hong Kong economy when most of the interviewees indicate that Hong Kong as the leading role in the field of advertising, whether Hong Kong development on both the legal and self-regulatory framework in the regulation of misleading advertising is effective or not will be a concerned issue. However, since Hong Kong does not have a comprehensive law to regulate the advertising practice, it lags far behind many of the advanced economies. It shows it is an important issue that the government should set up the regulation. Last but not least, protection is needed for the untrained consumers who lack the knowledge of the product to against the misleading advertising. According to the Consumer Council, the number of complaints received by the Council against misleading advertisements continues to rise since these advertisements contain distortion or exaggerate of information that will make the consumer misinterpret the use of the product. Especially for the children and teenagers, as they are kind of “consumer trainee”, they will easily believe what the advertisements said because of lack of critical thinking. Furthermore, the misleading advertising will cause a consumer easily fall in a trap that make decision which is detrimental to him when acquiring goods or using services. For example, advertisement about the insurance or housing property usually exaggerate the benefit of its product in order to increase the attractiveness, however, the fact is always not the same with what the advertisement shown. The Communication Authority states that when there are so many misleading advertisements that will harmful to our consumers, it will weaken the consumers’ confidence in producers generally, thus, the overall levels of production of economic will fall. When people do not believe in advertisements as well as Hong Kong producers, their consumer behavior will then change, as a result, Hong Kong economic is being affected. It seems it is difficult for the general public to be critical enough to analyze the content of the advertisement, the government has the duty to protect these untrained consumers, therefore, law should be set to regulate the contents of the advertisements. However, some may think the contents of advertisements should not be regulated by law since advertisement has the power to shape consciousness, if the content of advertisements is regulated by legislation, the creativity will be strangled and limited in a small room. It is true that the advertisement is important to us and the creativity should not be strangled but the main purpose of setting the law is to protect the interest of general public especially those lack of critical thinking to against misleading advertisements and its unfair consequences but not involve the level of creativity. For example, the “Advertising Law of the People’s Republic of China” is particularly aim at against the deceptive and misleading advertisements that it will not throttle the creativeness of the advertisers. All in all, it is necessarily to set up the legislation to regulate the contents of the advertisements in order to protect the public interest and also maintain the leading role in the field of advertising of Hong Kong. Members of the public and the interested parties should have the responsibility to comment and also voice out their opinion to the government instead of just sitting down and doing nothing. (973 Words)

Reference
China.org.cn. (2011, February 11). China.org.cn. Retrieved from Advertisement Law of the People's Republic of China: http://www.china.org.cn/china/LegislationsForm2001-2010/2011-02/11/content_21899963.htm CommunicationAuthority. (2013, January). Communication Authority. [PDF Document] Retrieved from GENERIC CODE OF PRACTICE ON TELEVISION ADVERTISING STANDARDS: http://www.coms-auth.hk/filemanager/common/policies_regulations/cop/code_tvad_e.pdf ConsumerCouncil. (1999). Consumer Council. Retrieved from Ways to Improve the Regulation of Advertising: http://www.consumer.org.hk/website/wrap_en2/misad99/english/report.htm ConsumerCouncil. (2008, January 22). Consumer Council. Retrieved from Press Releases: http://www.consumer.org.hk/website/ws_en/news/press_releases/2008012101.html Government. (2009, Feburary 4). Government News. Retrieved from Press releases: http://www.info.gov.hk/gia/general/200902/04/P200902040208.htm

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