If you listen to commercial radio and are fed up with long renditions of terms and conditions at the end of ads, help is at hand.

As part of a project called the Consumer Trust Initiative, Global, the leading media and entertainment company which runs several major radio stations, has looked at the impact audio ads with extensive terms and conditions have on the listening experience. They looked into listeners’ trust of the media channel and their perception of the advertiser. The results highlighted the negative impact of long recitals of T&Cs not only on listeners, but also on the consumers’ view of the advertised product.

Global is proactively supporting industry guidance and is reducing the length of T&Cs on radio advertisements to a maximum of 8 seconds. This will be effective from 1 February 2022 and will initially only be applied to advertisers in the motoring sector but will be extended to other sectors in due course. My colleague Alex Meloy wrote about the guidance on this blog in February 2020, but advertisers seem to have been nervous to take the up the advantages of the guidance. 

Global’s research found listeners can’t absorb or recall important information when the terms and conditions are too complex, and they’re less trusting of the advertiser. Only 4% of listeners say they can recall any salient facts, as listener attention plummets when they’re broadcast.

Research from Radiocentre (which pre-clears radio advertising) found that 72% of listeners would rather read the T&Cs in their own time on a website and 60% of all adults think that T&Cs are there to protect the advertiser, rather than the consumer.

That's why I strongly support the Consumer Trust Initiative. The Radiocentre guidance, which is backed by the Financial Conduct Authority, provides comfort to advertisers so they can reduce the length of the T&Cs in their radio ads, safe in the knowledge that they will remain legally compliant. 

But don't just take my word for it. Guy Parker, CEO of the Advertising Standards Authority has confirmed the ASA won't take action against advertisers who use shorter T&Cs, provided they still comply with the BCAP Code: 

“Trust in radio ads really matters. It’s clear that extensive T&Cs not only go down badly with listeners, but often do little to protect them. We welcome the Consumer Trust Initiative and won’t take action against shorter T&Cs that comply with the Ad Code.”

It's not often you get a regulator AND a lawyer both saying that what we need now is less small print and fewer disclaimers. This will benefit both advertisers and consumers. In fact, the only losers will be the poor lawyers, trying to eek out a modest stipend by drafting the small print for radio ads.

Actually, is it too late for me to withdraw my support? After all, I am sure I mentioned that terms and conditions apply.