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Junk food ad ban has ‘no real substance’

We believe the new rules will fail children


Consumer's need to know what's in their food

Broadcast regulator Ofcom has let Britain’s children down by failing to introduce a 9pm watershed ban on junk food adverts, Which? says today.

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

But Which? says the new rules don’t go far enough.

That’s because many of the TV shows most popular with children will not be covered by proposed new advertising restrictions.

Flawed rules

Responding to today’s Ofcom statement, Which? chief policy advisor Sue Davies said: ‘Although this looks good on the face of it, there is no real substance.

‘The government needs to take a lead. With an escalating obesity crisis we can’t afford to wait another couple of years before stepping in.’

Which? research last December showed that the criteria used to define which programmes ‘appeal’ to children under 16 was fundamentally flawed.

Unhealthy foods

We found that many more children aged four to 16 were watching TV during the evening rather than during specific children’s programmes.

Sue Davies added: ‘Ofcom has let children down. These rules won’t cover the programmes most children watch. They will still allow cartoon characters to promote unhealthy foods during Coronation Street and Dancing on Ice – so how will this make a difference?’

The new restrictions will be phased in and will apply to food and drinks products which are assessed as being high in fat, salt and sugar (HFSS) by the Food Standards Agency.

Adverts for HFSS products must not be shown in or around programmes aimed at or which appeal to the under 10s from April.

Children’s channels

A total ban on junk food ads during programmes aimed at or which appeal to under-16s will then come into force from the beginning of January 2008.

Children’s channels will be allowed a phase-in period for the new regulations, which must be fully implemented by the end of December 2008.

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