Junk food ad ban is 'public health fudge'Ofcom proposals don't go far enough

17 November 2006

 

Chip on fork

Which? has called for the government to step in after Ofcom ruled out a 9pm watershed ban on junk food adverts.

The broadcast regulator said this morning that it only wants a ban on adverts during and around programmes of ‘particular appeal’ to children under 16.

But we believe the proposals don't go far enough and are a ‘public health fudge’.

Which?, together with numerous other health and consumer organisations, believes the only way to fully protect children is through a 9pm watershed ban.

Unhealthy foods

Which? Director of Communications and Campaigns Nick Stace said: ‘Proposals announced by Ofcom today show that government intervention with a 9pm ban is now the only way to fully protect children from the influence of TV advertising of unhealthy foods.

‘While Which? is pleased that Ofcom is recognising that under 16s need to be protected from the effects of advertising and promotion, the announcement today is a missed opportunity to do this effectively.

‘Which? research shows that many more children are watching TV throughout the evening rather than during specific children’s programming.'

Ofcom admitted that a 9pm watershed ban would remove a large number of junk food adverts from TV screens.

But it said the move would be disproportionate and could reduce broadcaster revenues by more than £250 million per year.

Obesity crisis

Ofcom said the new restrictions will cost broadcasters up to an estimated £39 million in lost advertising revenue.

Nick Stace added:  ‘Ofcom itself has recognised the proposed measures wont' fully protect under 16s as they will only reduce by 41 per cent their exposure to TV advertising of unhealthy foods. A 9pm watershed is therefore the only answer.

‘One million children are predicted to be obese in England alone by 2010.  We cannot afford another public health fudge.’