Junk regulation 

19 September 2008 tbs.pm/943

Kids still exposed to bad food ads

The government decided that TV adverts featuring so-called ‘junk food’ which are shown during children’s programmes are a bad idea, so it (and Ofcom) came up with a plan to prevent ads for this type of food being shown during programmes that were designated as being of primary interest to children.

In turn this helped to cause commercial broadcasters to reduce the number of children’s programmes, but due to the fact that the same proportion of children also watch ‘family’ programmes such as Emmerdale that don’t have ‘junk’ food advert restrictions, the restrictions in practice have turned out to be virtually useless.

Proof indeed that it’s extremely difficult to have tight regulation in one specific aspect of television broadcasting when other regulations such as programme quotas have been relaxed, especially when an outright ban is involved when one wasn’t there before. And especially when the restrictions have a glaring loophole in them.

Of course if ITV was forced to broadcast children’s programmes then this wouldn’t be an issue (economic factors aside, although ITV’s viability could still be improved further in this respect).

Then of course there’s the whole health debate surrounding such ‘junk’ food advertisments, especially when factors such as encouraging exercise and regulating overall food consumption are likely to be far more important than stopping crisps being advertised during The Simpsons.

And what about TV ads for financial products that were banned during the era of the Independent Broadcasting Authority but have since encouraged viewers to take out high interest loans and excessive mortgages? Given the current parlous state of the UK economy, it’s not hard to imagine this having been a small but contributory factor to recent events.

A member of the Transdiffusion Broadcasting System
Liverpool, Monday 15 April 2024