LONDON: UK consumers have rejected the idea of a pre-9pm ban on junk food television commercials, according to a survey commissioned by the country's media regulator.
The findings of Ofcom's research will be welcomed by food manufacturers and advertisers who have been lobbying to reduce the effects of impending regulations.
Ofcom is currently consulting with all interested parties, including consumer groups, the Food Standards Agency and parliamentarians, some of whom demand draconian restrictions on TV food ads in a bid to tackle rising obesity among youngsters.
Participants in Ofcom's Opinion Leader Research survey were not directly questioned about a pre-watershed ban but the issue arose in focus group discussions. The majority felt a total ban would be heavy-handed and would affect adult viewing.
The preferred option among Ofcom's three regulatory packages on the table is one that would stop advertising of 'junk' food during children's TV programs or those that attract a high number of young viewers.
The Advertising Association, which is proposing its own rules to tackle the concerns of the public and of the food industry, has welcomed the research as a "thorough and methodical piece of work".
Comments its director of public affairs Sue Eustace: "The research clearly indicates that a pre-9pm watershed ban on television advertisements for food and soft drink high in fat, sugar or salt is considered disproportionate, and that a more moderate approach is warranted."
Ofcom's final recommendations will be published this autumn.
Data sourced from MediaGuardian.co.uk; additional content by WARC staff