NZ TV Bosses Unite Against 'Junk' Food Ad Laws

05 May 2008

WELLINGTON, NZ: Rival Kiwi television executives have come together to lobby lawmakers over proposals to legislate against 'junk' food and drink advertising.

They believe they stand to lose around NZ$36 million ($28m; €18m; £14m) a year in ad income if the Public Health Bill is passed as part of the government's effort to stem the rising tide of childhood obesity.

The TV chiefs also claim the new regulations could threaten the airing of popular shows such as The Simpsons and UKsoap opera import Coronation Street, in which characters do not always make healthy lifestyle choices.

Broadcasting executives, including Television New Zealand's ceo Rick Ellis and MediaWorks' Brent Impey, argue the proposed powers are at odds with self-regulation, especially when the Government has fostered that process and it is working well. 
Impey says children aged between five and 14 were currently potentially exposed to only 67 seconds a day of advertising of inappropriate foods, based on their average viewing time of 44 minutes from 3pm to 8.30pm.

He also asserts that research has shown TV commercials have little influence on children's food choices.

Ellis says TVNZ would lose NZ$20 million per year if the legislation is introduced, with a knock-on effect on the state broadcaster's ability to finance local content.

Health campaigners in New Zealand insist, however, new laws are necessary because self-regulation is not working.

Declares emeritus professor Robert Beaglehole, formerly of the World Health Organisation: "[Self-regulation] is demonstrably not working because our children in particular are at great risk of obesity.

"We agree that self-regulation works for the industry. We want it to work for children and, if it doesn't, for regulation to be brought into play."

Data sourced from; additional content by WARC staff