UK Regulator Unveils Junk Food Ad Restrictions

29 March 2006

UK media watchdog Ofcom is proposing draconian restrictions on food and drink advertising to young children.

The regulator has announced a number of possible options in response to the Blair administration's concerns about the role of ads for HFSS (high in fat, salt or sugar) foods in Britain's child obesity epidemic.

Ofcom's proposed guidelines, drawn up in partnership with the Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice, are now the subject of a twelve-week consultation with broadcasters, advertisers, retailers and manufacturers.

The possible permutations include restricting the content, volume and scheduling of food and drink ads, from a complete ban on advertising food and drink to the under-fives to limiting the use of cartoon characters or celebrities in advertising to under-nines.

Comments Ofcom ceo Stephen Carter: "With childhood obesity, the case for targeted action has been made; but which action - and how this should be implemented - is the final stage of consultation."

Restrictions on junk food ads could cost UK TV broadcasters up to £100m ($174m; €144m) in lost revenues. Food advertisers spent £51m on TV advertising in the 6pm-7.30pm slot in 2005 and more than £87m between 7.30pm and 9pm according to Nielsen Media Research.

Data sourced from Brand Republic (UK); additional content by WARC staff