The Advertising Standards Authority of SA (ASA) recently held its annual general meeting at which it was announced that its president, Professor Mervyn King SC, is to resign. King chaired the meeting.
King, who was also chairman of the body’s Final Appeal Committee and Sponsorship Final Appeal Committee, said he was resigning to focus more of his time on the International Integrated Reporting Committee, an international corporate oversight body of which he is chair.
He pointed out that his predecessors in the position of ASA president have served for about the same length of time as he. “I have given many rulings and I think we can be proud we’ve built up a body of jurisprudence. It’s been a privilege (to be president)… but my life is full and I think it’s apposite that I leave.”
King added that he is to be succeeded by Judge Kate O’ Regan, one of the country’s most respected legal figures. O’Regan was one of the first Constitutional Court justices, appointed to the bench in 1994 by Nelson Mandela. O’Regan also served as the inaugural chairperson of the United Nations Internal Justice Council is a member of the World Bank’s Sanction Board. “I’m confident I’m leaving the position in capable hands,” King said.
ASA chairman Nkwenkwe Nkomo addressed the AGM. Nkomo is also deputy group head of communications agency Draft FCB. A raft of allegations that, if true, amount to a seriously dysfunctional organisation have been levelled against the ASA. For one thing, it is an open secret that the body is experiencing a funding crisis. Nkomo acknowledged that there are funding issues. He briefly broke down expenses and explained how the ASA is cutting back.
The most expensive items on the ASA budget, said Nkomo, are salaries, rent and session fees (fees paid to specialised service providers, such as to someone chairing a committe, on an ad hoc basis). The ASA have cut back on these session fees, having spent only R690 000 in the last year – usually it would be R2 280 000 – as they have paid a negotiated rate. The ASA employs 22 people, 17 of whom focus on the core functions of the organisation.
Nkomo said ASA staff have forfeited increases for two years. Their salaries are adjusted for inflation, but apart from that they will receive no more money. The funds for the adjustment will come out of the ASA budget and will not cost the industry any more than usual. Nkomo also said the ASA are cutting back by renegotiating their rental contract and making sure they take up less office space. Nkomo said that in 2011, the ASA dealt with 2 189 complaints, 2099 of which were consumer complaints. Nine of the staff dealt with this category.
Further announcements were that the ASA are applying for accreditation under Section 82 of the Consumer Protection Act and that the SA Revenue Service has renewed their tax exempt status. King urged members to sign off on the proposed Memorandum of Incorporation. Members must sign off before it can be finalised, but many have failed to do so, he said. There will be a special meeting once all members have signed before the MOI can be adopted.