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Stelios considers legal action over AOL slur ruling

Ad watchdog bites back

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easyGroup chairman Stelios Haji-Ioannou claims the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) should be taken over by the Government because it is unwilling to stand up to 'big media'.

He believes the advertising watchdog caved in to pressure from AOL Time Warner over adverts depicting the entrepreneur tearing up his AOL account.

Stelios' outspoken remarks followed today's ruling which found that adverts for his easyEverything (now called easyInternetcafe) chain of Internet cafes had denigrated AOL UK.

He is also considering taking legal action to try and get the ruling over-turned.

And in a show of defiance he said he would not comply with the ASA wishes not to repeat the ads.

Said Stelios: "The ruling is clearly protecting the interests of the incumbent. It is as absurd as saying that hiring a video cannot be compared fairly with going to the cinema or that buying membership to a gym cannot be compared fairly to owning your own exercise bike.

"easyInternetcafe has no intention of complying with the demands of the ASA."

But the ASA has hit back arguing that Stelios is only happy when the rulings favour his company.

Christopher Graham, Director General of the ASA, said: "Stelios' blustering response to a carefully considered ASA adjudication overlooks two significant facts.

"First, as well as upholding complaints against easyEverything Ltd this week, the ASA also found against AOL on a complaint brought by Freeserve. So much for the ASA being unwilling to stand up to 'big media' in general and AOL in particular.

"Second, Stelios is perfectly happy to use the ASA against their competitors when it suits him. The ASA upheld easyJet complaints about price comparisons about Go Fly in May this year.

"Instead of inviting the Government in to regulate non-broadcast advertising, we suggest that easyEverything simply check out their advertising in advance with the Committee of Advertising Practice's free Copy Advice service," he said.

Ouch. ®

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