Sections of the food industry remain sceptical about the efficacy of any ban on high in fat, salt and sugar (HFSS) food products. The Food Advertising Unit (FAU), which operates under the
auspices of the UK Advertising Association, shares many of their concerns, but appears determined to ease the impact of the new regulations.
Indeed, the FAU claims to have played a strong role in encouraging Ofcom to consider a phased implementation for those most seriously affected.
“We welcome Ofcom’s decision to introduce the scheduling rules on a phased basis for all channels given its late decision to extend restrictions to all children under 16,” said Baroness
Peta Buscombe, the new chief executive of the Advertising Association.
“The important thing now is for the advertising industry to act within the spirit as well as the letter of the code. I have been impressed by the progress that has already been made in this
Ofcom, the UK’s advertising watchdog, concluded last week that restrictions should be put in place to reduce significantly the exposure of children under 16 to advertising of food and drink
products high in fat, salt and sugar.
The new statutory broadcast code on content will be legally binding on the industry, and provide some of the strictest rules on advertising food and soft drink to children in the world.
The UK food industry has criticised the decision.
“We are disappointed that Ofcom has decided to extend the restrictions on advertising to cover young people,” said FDF (food and drink federation) director general Melanie Leech.
“Ofcom notes TV advertising has a modest, direct effect on children’s food choices and is only one among many influences. So the decision will not, by itself, reduce childhood obesity; there
are no silver bullets that can be fired at this particular problem.”
The advertising industry shares the food industry’s sentiments about the multi-causal nature of obesity.
“These new rules are extremely important, but I would now urge campaigners and politicians to focus on all the root causes of obesity and not to get further distracted with any one
particular aspect,” said Buscombe.
The scheduling restrictions will now come into effect on a phased basis for all channels. As of 1 April 2007, HFSS advertisements will not be permitted in or around programmes made for children
(including pre-school children), or in or around programmes that are likely to be of particular appeal to children aged four to nine.
From 1 January 2008, HFSS advertisements will not be permitted in or around programmes made for children (including pre-school children), or in or around programmes that are likely to be of
particular appeal to children aged four to 15.
Children’s channels will be allowed a graduated phase-in period, with full implementation required by the end of December 2008.
Ofcom’s co-regulatory partners, the Broadcast Committee on Advertising Practice (BCAP) and the Advertising Standards Authority, are now responsible for implementing the new scheduling and
content rules and securing compliance respectively. The new rules will form part of the BCAP Television Advertising Standards Code.