UK Government Turns Tail on Junk Food to Kids TV Ad Ban

05 March 2004

Tessa Jowell, UK secretary for culture, media and sport, turned and ran for the hills on Wednesday, fearing accusations of advocating a 'Nanny state' -- currently a source of much angst within the Blair Administration.

Addressing the annual conference of ISBA (the Incorporated Society of British Advertisers), Jowell told the assembled marketing honchos on Wednesday that the government has second thoughts about banning TV advertising of junk foods to kids. Such a move is "not necessarily the silver bullet it is imagined to be," she said.

Instead she has decided to duck the issue, passing the buck to new media supra-regulator Ofcom. The watchdog will henceforth decide whether current guidelines for advertising to children are adequate in the light of soaring obesity levels among UK juveniles.

"Many of those who shout the loudest for an advertising ban also demand high-quality children's programming," Jowell told delegates, "which is, of course, largely paid for by food advertising.

"So there are no quick wins here and no easy answers. The danger is that the argument is won by default by those who call for an outright advertising ban."

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