In-Depth Guide to Ad Clearance

Welcome to our in-depth guide to Ad Clearance – your backstage pass to the world of advertising compliance. We're diving deep into the intricate journey of getting your ads broadcast-ready, from scripts to final approval. But don't worry, we're not here to overwhelm you with jargon; we're here to empower you with knowledge. Whether you're a seasoned pro or just dipping your toes into the clearance waters, this guide is your trusty companion. So let's embark on this journey together, unraveling the complexities and uncovering the secrets to successful ad clearance.

Understanding the clearance process

Watch our animated guide for a visual walkthrough of the three-stage clearance process, providing a comprehensive overview before delving into the detailed explanations below.

How long should I leave for Clearance?

Clearance is a three-stage process, and you should leave two-three weeks for the whole process.

Our clearance process is made up of three stages that run alongside the production of an ad.  Approval at each stage happens in one of our two systems, CopyCentral and The Library, as explained below. All stages must be completed, even if your ad is already made.

Script Clearance

The first stage of every clearance (even if your ad is already made) is to submit a script to Clearcast via CopyCentral, our online submissions portal.

This focuses on your ad at script stage.  You submit your script, including necessary storyboards and substantiation for any claims, to our online system, CopyCentral.

This is then read by your assigned Clearcast contact who’ll give you feedback highlighting any changes needed, or approval, within three working days. Any claims of a scientific or technical nature may, along with their substantiation, need to be sent to a consultant which will take longer to get feedback.  If your script is approved you can move on to the second stage of the process.

Scripts (Stage 1) via CopyCentral

To make sure your script is processed as quickly as possible, please note: 

  • The script must include all words spoken in the ad e.g. a presenter talking to the camera, characters talking to one another or a traditional voiceover.
  • The script must include visual description. This can be in the form of screengrabs or a short, concise written description.
  • If there is an intention to audio describe the ad for those who are blind or partially sighted, this should be noted in the feedback section of the submission and the proposed description should be included on the script.
  • The script must include any onscreen text in the ad, whether creative or legal.
  • There should only be one script per submission on CopyCentral.
  • Word docs are preferable for all scripts, though we would accept a PDF or PowerPoint document.

See our template script: SCRIPT TEMPLATE 20 07 16 (1).docx.

See our CopyCentral user guide which tells you how to upload scripts.

When you submit a script for clearance, this is what happens:

  • Your Clearcast contact will assess the script against the UK Code of Broadcast Advertising (BCAP) and identify any claims that need supporting, or anything else that needs clarification. They will then feedback to you via CopyCentral.
  • On occasion we may need to involve one of our consultants for their opinion on any complex issues. This is usually via email but sometimes we can facilitate a meet a consultant session. If you’d like to set up a meeting, please speak to your Clearcast contact or send an email
  • If your script requires further discussion it may be submitted to our daily Policy and Copy Meeting (PCM). At this meeting copy managers and the head of copy clearance will make a decision about the script. We’ll let you know what decision is taken.
  • If agreement cannot be reached at PCM your script may be referred to our copy committee who meet monthly. This is a panel made up of representatives of the broadcasters we clear for and members of the IPA and ISBA. This is a last resort and happens rarely.


This is the term we use for the evidence we need in support of any claims made in your ad. Substantiating your claims is a necessary requirement as per section 3.9 of the BCAP code. We ask everyone who works with us to use the template documents we’ve created when supplying substantiation to us, it helps makes the process quicker and smoother.

The retail substantiation form should be used for retail offers.

Example of a completed retail substantiation form.

The Claim Support Model (CSM) should be used for more complex or detailed submissions. These are usually science-based such as cosmetics, medicine, or slimming/diets, but it can be used for anything that requires a substantial amount of supporting data.

Claims support form

Claims support model guidelines

  • If your script isn’t retail and the CSM is too detailed for your requirements you must use a document on the client’s headed paper that’s signed off by someone senior at the client to cover the claims in your script. Please ensure it’s clear, concise and addresses all the points raised.
  • We can't accept web links or press releases as support for claims. Information from websites used in support of claims must be presented in a different format e.g. copying screengrabs into a substantiation document. Please remember to include details of the website the information was taken from.

All substantiation needs to be uploaded onto the submission via CopyCentral, please do not email it to your Clearcast contact.

Making a decision

Once we have received suitable substantiation and determined your script should be approved, we’ll sign it off on CopyCentral, where you will be able to see our feedback.

If the script doesn’t comply with the BCAP code, we’ll let you know why and suggest ways the script could achieve approval.

Video Clearance

After your script is approved it’s time to upload your ad.
Please note submitting a rough cut is a new stage of the process so a new submission must be created on CopyCentral. If the ad is audio described, this should be noted in the feedback section of the submission.

Rough-Cuts (Stage 2) via CopyCentral

At this stage we consider a rough-cut alongside your script. Submission of rough-cut versions aren’t compulsory but can save time and money for you down the line as they can be altered after feedback without needing to be ‘re-clocked.’ The video goes through an automatic transcoding check (if it fails, you will receive an email notification), and then through to the ingest team. We’ll check your ad’s ‘supers’ (the super-imposed legal text) are the right height, are being held on screen for long enough and are legible along with other elements like duration and PSE flashing.

If we already approved your script, tell us the relevant submission number, as this will speed up the process. Your ad is then watched in our daily viewing meeting to check we’re satisfied with your ad’s overall compliance with the codes – though you have one Clearcast contact, this means the whole team are always collaborating on all ads.

We’d always advise submitting a rough version of your ad (a ‘Rough-Cut’) after your script is approved and before you submit the finished ‘clocked’ version of the ad. The potential benefits of this are:

  • Saving you time and money by allowing us to check the ad is in line with the approved script before you’ve created and clocked the finished version
  • Checking your ad passes our flashing and legal text checks (see below for more info). If it fails, you can upload your revised rough-cut onto the same submission instead of creating a new one
  • Identifying any issues not caught at script stage and advising on timing restrictions.

Please note that if a ‘rough-cut’ is approved this does not guarantee acceptance of the final version, especially if you make any changes between the two stages.

 Once we receive your ad, this is what we do:

  • Your ad, whether rough-cut or final TVC will be viewed at our daily viewing meeting; we meet at 10am every morning to watch all the ads that have been submitted to us in the preceding 24 hours. If we receive your ad by midday, we’ll view it at our meeting the following morning.
  • During this meeting your ad will be checked and approved for broadcast by our copy clearance staff.
  • We will let you know once your ad has been approved. We’ll also tell you about any restrictions that need to be applied.
  • If we can’t approve the ad, we’ll tell you as soon as we can, providing as much detail as possible.

Finished ads (Stage 3) via The Library

After the rough-cut has been signed off, the final version of the ad (what’s called the ‘Clocked’ version or the TVC) should be submitted to us via The Library for final approval. This is the version that needs to be delivered to the broadcasters you’ve booked airtime with.

This is the final stage and where you should receive final clearance on your ad. Once your rough-cut has been approved in CopyCentral, you can upload your final clocked ad and its metadata to the Clearcast Library system. It will go through QC checks such as audio, flashing, and video duration – if it fails at any stage, you'll be able to see on the same page which stage and why it failed. You can simply amend and re-upload your ad without needing to re-clock or create a new submission.

If your ad passes these final checks, it will be sent through to your contact at Clearcast who will then give final approval which you’ll be able to see in both The Library and CopyCentral. The broadcasters will also be able to see all approved ads in the system.

Your ad is now ready for onward delivery through your preferred supplier and for broadcasting.

Clocked edit checklist

When submitting a clocked edit to us please remember to include the following:

  • 7 seconds of countdown clock at the start of the video file you upload and then 3 seconds of black screen, all of which should be silent
  • A clock number that’s clearly displayed on the screen whilst the countdown clock counts down
  • Vision hold for 5 seconds with silence at the end of the video file

If you’re unsure about how to create a clock number please see How Do I Create a Clock Number and Slate.

Additional considerations

Costs and optional services

There are no costs involved in the process, providing your ad will be transmitted on one of the channels we clear for. This includes on-demand and online channels.

If the channel isn’t on this list they should be approached directly for clearance of your ad as they may require a different clearance process.

The only occasions in the clearance process where charges may be involved for you is for our optional services which are chargeable. This includes when you want what’s classified as a Late Clearance, or if you're up against a tight deadline we can Fast Track your submission for a fee, which guarantees you feedback within 1 working day. We also offer Edit to Clear and TV Admin services if you need help with getting your ad format and technical aspects right.

Late submissions

If the ad’s transmission is imminent and there isn’t time for a standard clearance, we will do our best to provide provisional clearance. This means you can run the ad on the stations you’ve booked airtime with whilst we work on full approval. It doesn't provide the same checks and guarantees as final clearance and can be overturned at a later stage. If required we can also facilitate a ‘Late Clearance’. This is chargeable, and a difference service than fast track. For further details click here.

Technical specifications

Technical specifications for all Rough-Cuts can be found here.

Technical specifications for all Final TVCs can be found here.

If you have any technical questions or your file has failed either transcoding or QC and you would like further clarification, please email our support team

Legal text

Legal text (also known as ‘Supers’) is often a requirement in ads and it must comply with the regulations relating to size and ‘hold’ time, e.g. how long it is onscreen for. It must always be in standard sentence case, not upper case lettering.

Passing our legal text checks requires careful consideration and if a finished ad fails our tests it can’t be transmitted and will need a new clock number.

We have two tools on our website that you can use to check your legal text before submitting your ad to us, the Height Of Super Test Card and the Duration of Hold Calculator

You can find more detailed information on Supers the Super and Flashing segment.


All video submissions must comply with the guidelines on flashing images. Useful information about flashing can be found on the Super and Flashing segment.

If you have any questions about any stage of the process, please

Helpful documents

Helpful resources

We always respond as quickly as we can either to confirm clearance, raise issues we have identified or request substantiation. However during a clearance we sometimes require advice from our specialist consultants which may mean further time is required for approval.

Clearance of the actual clocked ad itself (or a rough-cut) is usually processed in 2-3 working days if the ad is in line with your approved script and there aren’t any technical issues with your video file.

Our service levels explain how long it may take us to provide a response in more detail.

And there you have it – our comprehensive guide to ad clearance comes to a close. From script submission to final approval, we've uncovered the intricacies of the clearance process, emphasising the importance of attention to detail, adherence to regulations, and a steadfast commitment to quality.

By understanding the significance of each stage and the procedures involved, advertisers are empowered to navigate the clearance process with confidence and clarity. It's not just about ticking boxes; it's about upholding integrity and professionalism in the advertising industry.

As you embark on your ad clearance journey, remember that we're here to support you every step of the way. Whether you need assistance from your designated contact person or have technical queries, our dedicated team is just a message away.

We hope this guide has armed you with the knowledge and tools needed to navigate ad clearance effectively. By embracing transparency, diligence, and compliance, you can ensure that your advertising content meets regulatory standards and resonates with audiences ethically and responsibly.

Thanks for joining us on this journey through the world of ad clearance. Here's to achieving successful clearances and creating impactful advertising campaigns that captivate audiences and drive results!

Contact and support information

Anyone who registers with us is assigned a specific contact. If you have any questions about your ad, please submit them to your contact to receive the quickest response. If your contact is away their work will be covered by one of our cover team or by another member of staff. You can find out who will be covering your work by emailing

If you have a technical question (e.g. about file specs, failed transcoding, or using The Library) please contact the helpdesk