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Sanral being childish over ASA - Justice Project

Jul 16 2015 07:39
Adam Wakefield, News24


Johannesburg - Instead of the SA National Road Agency Limited (Sanral) "childishly reacting" over the latest Advertising Standards Authority of SA (ASA) ruling on one of it's adverts, the agency should just be honest, Justice Project SA (JPSA) said on Thursday.

"Whilst Mr Vusi Mona’s assertion that the 'ASA is a self-regulatory body and has no absolute jurisdiction over the roads agency', it is not true to say that it has no jurisdiction over advertising standards in South Africa," national chairperson Howard Dembovsky said in a statement.

"It is furthermore disingenuous at best of Sanral to ask whether the ASA is 'now unwittingly part of the campaign against e-tolls' and state that it has 'only reacted to e-toll ads and shows no interest in the rest of the expanded advertising campaign', given the fact that the ASA does not lodge complaints with itself, but reacts to complaints lodged by members of the public."

On Thursday, Mona said in a statement: "Unfair or simply being used by the anti e-toll brigade? It is difficult to decide which of these descriptions best describe the Advertising Standards Association’s (ASA) handling of Sanral advertising."

"It threatens the South African National Roads Agency with strict sanctions if it does not immediately withdraw an ad on the new e-toll dispensation. That ruling was made this week. The ad in question was not flighted beyond June. What is there to withdraw? Anti e-toll is the best description."

He said unfair was more apt a description for a previous ruling on an advert regarding the number of registered e-tags.

"ASA queried the figures last year, after receiving a complaint, and Sanral had the numbers reviewed by an outside company, which confirmed the figures," Mona said.

"This was brought to the attention of ASA, yet it has never taken the audit firm’s findings into account and rescinded its ruling."

He asked whether the ASA was now "unwittingly" part of the campaign against e-tolls.

"Sanral has always adhered to ASA rulings, but will in future have to question these and possibly disregard them as the agency is not bound in law to adhere to them," Mona said.

"ASA is a self-regulatory body and has no absolute jurisdiction over the roads agency. Sanral reiterates its disagreement with the ASA on its latest ruling."

Ordered to remove misleading e-toll advert

On Monday, Sanral were ordered by the ASA to remove a misleading e-toll advert. According to the ASA, Sanral omitted vital information which was likely to create a misleading expectation, “with listeners believing that they are already entitled to the various savings, when in fact this is not yet the case”.

A consumer lodged a complaint against a Sanral radio commercial broadcast during the month of June, which stated that the government was giving consumers "a new e-toll dispensation".

According to the commercial, the government reduced the rate to “30 cents per kilometre for light motor vehicles and slashed the monthly cap by 50%. If you have outstanding e-toll fees dating back to December 2013, you will receive a 60% discount and six months to pay”.

The complainant submitted that the commercial was misleading in that it suggested that the new dispensation and associated discounts were available to motorists. Yet, the 60% discount was not yet active and consumers would be paying more than they believed they were liable for.

The ASA found the commercial to be misleading and ordered its withdrawal with immediate effect.

ASA's sixth ruling against Sanral - Dembovsky

Dembovsky believed this was this sixth time the ASA had ruled against Sanral's advertising on e-tolls.

"Mr Mona and Sanral would be better advised to, instead of childishly reacting with 'fury' over such findings, consider being truthful in their advertising campaigns on e-tolls so that complaints may not be upheld, or for that matter, lodged with the ASA in the first place," he said.

"Whether Sanral decides to ignore the ASA’s findings in the future or not is irrelevant, given the fact that broadcasters and advertising agencies are unlikely to follow suit."

Sanral should also bear in mind that its advertising campaigns were funded by the citizens of South Africa and therefore it was extremely disrespectful of them, as a state owned corporation, to assert they will continue to use citizens’ money to mislead the public.

"All of this said, JPSA wishes to extend its sincere gratitude to Vusi Mona, Sanral ... for discrediting themselves even further by reacting in such a childish, emotional and grossly uninformed manner," he said.


justice project sa  |  sanral  |  tolls
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