Fury at plans to air condom ads before 9pm watershed

Condom adverts are set to be aired on national television before the 9pm watershed, according to press reports.

However, a separate proposal to allow abortion adverts has been put on hold by the UK’s advertising watchdog.

The rules will be relaxed to allow condom adverts following a proposal by the Government’s Independent Advisory Group on Sexual Health and HIV (IAG).

The adverts are an attempt to reduce the nation’s teen pregnancy rate, but critics have warned that the scheme will not work.

Norman Wells, of the Family Education Trust, said: “Advertising condoms on prime-time television would do nothing to reduce teenage conceptions or sexually transmitted infections.

“Research does not support the common claim that teenage pregnancy rates in the UK are high because young people lack reliable information about contraception and are unable to access it with sufficient ease.”

His concerns were echoed by Michaela Aston, from the pregnancy charity Life, who said: “Condom advertising throughout the day is just going to encourage young people to have sex. The next thing we will see is free condoms in breakfast cereals.”

Mr Wells has also cast doubts on the IAG’s suitability to be advising on how to cut the teen pregnancy rate.

He said: “The IAG is formed of individuals and representatives of organisations wedded to the idea that the answer to high teenage conception rates is more sex education and easier availability of contraception and abortion.

“The group does not contain a single representative from any organisation that promotes the traditional family based on marriage, nor are any of its members known for their support of education programmes aimed at encouraging young people to save sex for marriage”.

Condom advertising is expected to be included in the Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice’s (BCAP’s) new guidlines, which are due to be published “shortly”, according to press reports.

However, BCAP has confirmed that plans to allow abortion adverts on national TV have been put on hold.

A statement from the advertising watchdog said: “In March 2009, the Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice (BCAP) consulted on a proposal to include a rule in the BCAP Advertising Code about post-conception advice services. In recent weeks, Ofcom and BCAP have identified some outstanding matters for further discussion on the proposal.”

It continued: “Therefore, when the new Broadcast Advertising Code is published, the regulatory position for advertisements for post-conception advice services will remain unchanged.”

John Smeaton, Director of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) welcomed the announcement, saying: “BCAP’s statement suggests there was overwhelming opposition to TV abortion advertising in response to their consultation.

“However, a word of caution: We hope that the statement is not conditioned by the impending general election and the desire to conceal a decision in favour of abortion advertising on TV for which the government would be blamed”.

The nation’s first televised advert for the morning-after pill aired on national TV last April amid outrage from pro-life campaigners.

The advertisement was screened after 9pm on several channels, including ITV, Channel 4 and Sky.

Last week it was revealed that the Government is falling woefully behind in its bid to slash the teenage pregnancy rate by 50 per cent by 2010.

And critics have blasted the Government for its continued reliance on sex education and condoms to cut the rate of teen pregnancies.

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