TV Food Ads: UK Activists in Legal Action Against Ofcom

23 May 2006

An alliance of British health, medical and consumer organisations is preparing an application for judicial review against Ofcom, the government-created media and telecoms regulator.

The National Heart Forum, representing doctors, teachers and children's charities, is seeking a judicial review of the regulator's refusal to consider changing the 9pm 'watershed' - before which certain limits are placed on child-targeted junk food ads.

Ofcom claims it would be "disproportionate" to fully and properly consult on excluding junk food advertising before the watershed. That decision, accuses the NHF, is "skewed, unfair and relies on misquoting statistical evidence".

NHF members include the British Medical Association, the British Heart Foundation, the National Children's Bureau, the National Union of Teachers and Which? (formerly the Consumers' Association).

The body accuses Ofcom of attaching greater importance to the broadcast industry's profits than it does to children's health - a view that reflects a growing belief among consumer and health organisations that the regulator's decisions and actions are determined by a cadre of executives drawn mainly from the business and the media sectors.

Says NHF deputy chief executive Jane Landon: "We are dismayed that Ofcom has weighed industry profits against children's health, compromised this important consultation and forced us to take this unprecedented step of seeking a fair consultation through the courts."

It is estimated that a ban on junk food and drink advertising before 9pm would cost broadcasters up to £240 million ($452.6m; €352.3m) annually.

Data sourced from; additional content by WARC staff