Regulator appointed for the direct marketing industry

LONDON - A new self-regulatory body for the UK's direct marketing industry, The Direct Marketing Commission, launched today (Thursday).

Matti Alderson: heads the new Direct Marketing Commission
Matti Alderson: heads the new Direct Marketing Commission

The DMC will investigate complaints of inappropriate and unethical direct marketing practice from members of the public and businesses.

The commission, which is separate from the industry's trade body, the Direct Marketing Association, is the first regulatory body whose remit extends to both DMA and non-DMA members and will investigate complaints about direct marketing, from any source, about any company operating in the UK.

To fulfil its consumer protection role, the commission will ensure that direct marketers observe the code of practice on direct marketing.

All disciplines of direct marketing practice - including direct mail, e-mail, SMS, interactive television, mail order, telephone, catalogue and online - fall within the commission's remit.

Members of the public and businesses can lodge complaints with the commission in writing or through its website. The results of completed investigations will be published monthly on the website, together with any guidance on issues affecting the regulation of direct marketing practice.

The commission will provide a portal to other regulatory bodies whenever it receives complaints that fall outside its own scope: these will include relevant trading standards authorities, the Advertising Standards Authority, the Information Commissioner's Office and the Office of Fair Trading.

The commission has a range of sanctions itcould apply, depending on the seriousness of the issue or complaint. These include requiring companies to sign a written undertaking not to repeat a breach of the code of practice, formal referral to the DMA with a recommendation of suspension, or expulsion from the association and adverse publicity through a public statement to the national and/or marketing press.

The independent chairman of the commission is Matti Alderson, former director- general of the Advertising Standards Authority and a Press Complaints Commissioner, heads a board comprising four industry and four independent members

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