Pre-9pm Junk Food Ad Ban Could Cost UK Broadcasters £100m

11 June 2004

British doctors have added their voices to the protest at promoting unhealthy foods to children by demanding such advertising on TV be banned before the 9pm 'watershed' -- a voluntary agreement by broadcasters to avoid content or ads deemed unsuitable for children.

In a move that particularly targets children's channels such as The Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon, the doctors' demand echoes an earlier report by the UK House of Commons health committee proposing a voluntary ban on advertising high-sugar / high-carb / high-fat foods to children [WAMN 01-Jun-04].

The British Medical Association, of which 80% UK practising doctors are members, has made "informal" contact with MPs in the hope that the pre-watershed ban will become public policy.

But as TV companies stand to lose a claimed £100 million ($182.8; €151.8m) annually from such restrictions, the Advertising Association's Food Advertising Unit has hit back.

Says its director Jeremy Preston, "there's no evidence that it [the pre-watershed ban] would work." The FAU plans to tackle the BMA directly about its action.

BMA public health committee chairman, Dr Peter Tiplady remains confident after slamming the "bombardment" of children with junk food ads. "This is going to be a powerful message to the government. Our voice will be listened to."

Data sourced from: BrandRepublic (UK); additional content by WARC staff