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Junk Food Advertising Childrens Television

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In August 2008, the Queensland Government released a Discussion Paper (Have Your Say: Junk Food Advertising on Childrens Television) seeking the communitys views on junk food television advertising aimed at children. Junk food is defined in the Discussion Paper as food and drinks that are high in fat, salt or sugar and do not provide nutritional value to keep us healthy. The Discussion Paper states that the Queensland Government may consider banning or regulating junk food advertising to help reduce the incidence of childhood obesity in Queensland. This Research Brief examines the current co-regulatory regime in Australia for junk food advertising as well as proposed changes, such as the draft Childrens Television Standards 2008. The Brief provides information about the number of advertisements seen by Australian children, describes the criteria on which junk food advertising can be regulated, and discusses the pros and cons of regulating junk food advertising on television. Details about the regulation of junk food advertising on childrens television in a number of Australian and overseas jurisdictions are also provided.

Mary Westcott Research Brief No 2009/07

Queensland Parliamentary Library General Distribution Research Team Research and Information Service
Ms Karen Sampford, Team Leader Mrs Nicolee Dixon, Senior Parliamentary Research Officer Mrs Renee Gastaldon, Parliamentary Research Officer Ms Mary Westcott, Parliamentary Research Officer Mrs Xanthe Paltridge, Parliamentary Research Officer (07) 3406 7116 (07) 3406 7409 (07) 3406 7241 (07) 3406 7372 (07) 3406 7468

Research Publications are compiled for Members of the Queensland Parliament, for use in parliamentary debates and for related parliamentary purposes. Information in publications is current to the date of publication. Information on legislation, case law or legal policy issues does not constitute legal advice. Research Publications on Bills reflect the legislation as introduced and should not be considered complete guides to the legislation. To determine whether a Bill has been enacted, or whether amendments have been made to a Bill during consideration in detail, the Queensland Legislation Annotations, prepared by the Office of the Queensland Parliamentary Counsel, or the Bills Update, produced by the Table Office of the Queensland Parliament, should be consulted. Readers should also refer to the relevant Alert Digest of the Scrutiny of Legislation Committee of the Queensland Parliament at: www.parliament.qld.gov.au/SLC

Queensland Parliamentary Library, 2009


ISSN 1443-7902 ISBN 978-1-921056-75-8 APRIL 2009
Copyright protects this publication. Except for purposes permitted by the Copyright Act 1968, reproduction by whatever means is prohibited, other than by Members of the Queensland Parliament in the course of their official duties, without the prior written permission of the Clerk of the Parliament on behalf of the Parliament of Queensland. Inquiries should be addressed to: Team Leader, General Distribution Research Team Research and Information Service Queensland Parliamentary Library Parliament House George Street, Brisbane QLD 4000 Ms Karen Sampford. (Tel: 07 3406 7116) Email: Karen.Sampford@parliament.qld.gov.au Information about Research Publications can be found on the Internet at: www.parliament.qld.gov.au/publications

CONTENTS

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY ....................................................................................... 1 2 3 4 5 INTRODUCTION.............................................................................................1 PURPOSE OF THIS RESEARCH BRIEF.....................................................2 OBESITY ...........................................................................................................2 FACTORS INFLUENCING CHILDRENS FOOD CHOICES ..................3 FOOD AND DRINK ADVERTISING DURING CHILDRENS TELEVISION VIEWING ...............................................................................5 5.1 6 7 CHILDRENS UNDERSTANDING OF TELEVISION ADVERTISING .......................8

REGULATION OF JUNK FOOD ADVERTISING .....................................9 AUSTRALIA .....................................................................................................9 7.1 BROADCASTING SERVICES ACT 1992 (CTH)................................................10 Childrens Television Standards..........................................................10 Draft Childrens Television Standards ................................................11

7.1.1 7.1.2 7.2

INDUSTRY CODES ........................................................................................13 Commercial Television Industry Code of Practice 2004.....................13 Code for Advertising to Children ........................................................14 AANA Food and Beverages Code.......................................................14 The Responsible Childrens Marketing Initiative................................15 Nestl ...................................................................................................15

7.2.1 7.2.2 7.2.3 7.2.4 7.2.5 7.3 7.4 7.5 8

PROTECTING CHILDREN FROM JUNK FOOD ADVERTISING (BROADCASTING AMENDMENT) BILL 2008 (CTH) ......................................16 SOUTH AUSTRALIA ......................................................................................18 NEW SOUTH WALES ....................................................................................18

OVERSEAS JURISDICTIONS .....................................................................19

8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 8.5 8.6 8.7 8.8 8.9 9

AUSTRIA...................................................................................................... 19 FLANDERS, BELGIUM .................................................................................. 19 IRELAND ...................................................................................................... 19 NORWAY ..................................................................................................... 20 QUEBEC....................................................................................................... 20 SPAIN .......................................................................................................... 21 SWEDEN ...................................................................................................... 22 UNITED KINGDOM ....................................................................................... 23 UNITED STATES........................................................................................... 25

ARGUMENTS AGAINST REGULATING JUNK FOOD ADVERTISING ON TELEVISION ............................................................25 ARGUMENTS IN FAVOUR OF REGULATING JUNK FOOD ADVERTISING ON TELEVISION ..........................................................27 PUBLIC VIEWS ON JUNK FOOD ADVERTISING ............................. 28 CONCLUSION ............................................................................................ 30

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RECENT QPL RESEARCH PUBLICATIONS 2009........................................ 31

Junk Food Advertising on Childrens Television

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
In August 2008, the Queensland Government released a Discussion Paper (Have Your Say: Junk Food Advertising on Childrens Television) seeking the communitys views on junk food television advertising aimed at children. Junk food is defined in the Discussion Paper as food and drinks that are high in fat, salt or sugar and do not provide nutritional value to keep us healthy. The Discussion Paper states that the Queensland Government may consider banning or regulating junk food advertising to help reduce the incidence of obesity amongst Queensland children: section 1 of this Research Brief. Section 2 explains the purpose of the Research Brief. Various studies and reports are considered from which it can be seen that junk food advertising on childrens television is only one of the factors influencing childrens food choices and potentially leading to children being overweight or obese: sections 3 and 4. Section 5 provides details about the amount of television watched by children and the number of junk food advertisements they see. It also discusses how a childs understanding of television advertisements changes as the child matures. Section 6 provides some criteria by which junk food advertising on television can be regulated. Section 7 summarises Australias co-regulatory approach to junk food advertising. This can be compared with the approach taken in a selection of other countries set out in section 8 of this paper. Sections 9 and 10 provide arguments for and against the regulation of junk food advertising on television, while section 11 provides results of surveys that have been conducted on the topic. Obesity is a multi-factorial problem and therefore regulating junk food advertising on childrens television is unlikely, by itself, to be a golden bullet. However, many stakeholders believe that restricting junk food advertising during childrens television viewing hours will assist in reducing levels of childhood obesity. On the other hand, others are concerned that such restrictions may reduce the income of broadcasters and thereby lead to a reduction in the quality of childrens programs: section 12.

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INTRODUCTION

In August 2008, the Queensland Government released a Discussion Paper (Have Your Say: Junk Food Advertising on Childrens Television) seeking the communitys views on junk food advertising on childrens television. 1 Junk food is defined in the Discussion Paper (p 3) as food and drinks that are high in fat, salt or sugar and do not provide nutritional value to keep us healthy. 2 In a media statement announcing the release of the Discussion Paper, the Queensland Premier, the Hon Anna Bligh MP, said: 3
we can no longer ignore the influence TV can wield over our childrens food choices. I, as a parent, know all too well the pester power junk food ads can cause, making it very difficult for mums and dads to say no to frequent requests from their children.

In the Discussion Paper, the Premier and the then Queensland Minister for Health said that the Queensland Government wants to consider, with the community, whether we should ban or regulate junk food and drink advertising during peak viewing time for children to help reduce the incidence of obesity amongst Queensland children. 4

Queensland Government, Have Your Say: Junk Food Advertising on Childrens Television: A Discussion Paper, August 2008, p 4. The Discussion Paper does not have page numbers so page numbers have been allocated, starting with the cover page. The United Kingdom Office of Communications (Ofcom) uses the term the Big 5, rather than junk food; it defines the Big 5 as confectionery, soft drinks, crisps/savoury snacks, fast food, [and] pre-sugared breakfast cereals. The Big 6 is defined as the Big 5 plus pre-prepared convenience foods: UK Ofcom, Childhood Obesity Food Advertising in Context: Childrens food choices, parents understanding and influence, and the role of food promotion, 22 July 2004, p 3. Junk food is defined as energy-dense, nutrient-poor food and drinks in SA Health, Television Advertising and the Consumption of Unhealthy Food and Drinks by Children, Consultation Paper, August 2008, p 1. The Hon Anna Bligh MP, Premier, and the Hon Stephen Robertson MP, the then Minister for Health, Junk food ad bans on the menu have your say, Ministerial Media Statement, 26 August 2008.
4 3 2

Queensland Government, Have Your Say: Junk Food Advertising on Childrens Television: A Discussion Paper, Message from the Premier and the Minister for Health, p 2.

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The Discussion Paper attached a survey form seeking input on whether television advertising of food and drinks in Queensland should be restricted during the following hours: 5

childrens peak viewing times: between 7am and 9am and between 5pm and 8:30pm; or childrens general viewing times: between 7am and 8:30pm each day; or childrens viewing times when they are unlikely to be supervised: between 7am and 9am and between 3pm and 6pm on weekdays and between 7am and 6pm on weekends.

PURPOSE OF THIS RESEARCH BRIEF

This Research Brief examines the current co-regulatory regime in Australia for junk food advertising as well as proposed changes, such as the draft Childrens Television Standards 2008. The Brief provides information about the number of advertisements seen by Australian children and the impact of junk food advertising on childrens food choices. It describes criteria on which junk food advertising can be regulated, discusses the pros and cons of regulating junk food advertising on television, and provides results of surveys that have been conducted on the topic. Details about the regulation of junk food advertising on childrens television in a number of Australian and overseas jurisdictions are also provided.

OBESITY

Research suggests that junk food advertising on television contribute[s] to poor food choices, poor overall diet and thus increased adiposity ... 6 The Queensland Government sees the regulation of junk food advertising as a means of reducing the proportion of children who are overweight or obese. 7 The Discussion Paper (p 3) notes some research about of the problems stemming from obesity:

Queensland Government, Have Your Say: Junk Food Advertising on Childrens Television: A Discussion Paper, pp 5-7. See also, Junk food ad bans on the menu have your say.
6

Australian Centre for Health Promotion, Food Advertising on Sydney Television: The Extent of Childrens Exposure, Report to NSW Health, July 2006, p 9. Queensland Government, Have Your Say: Junk Food Advertising on Childrens Television: A Discussion Paper, Message from the Premier and the Minister for Health, p 2. See also ACEObesity, Assessing Cost-effectiveness of Obesity Interventions in Children and Adolescents: Summary of Results, 2006, p 37: this study, commissioned by the Victorian Government, showed that restricting junk food advertising is a cost-effective means of reducing obesity in children.
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Overweight adolescents have a much greater chance of becoming overweight adults and are more likely to develop joint problems, Type 2 diabetes, some cancers such as bowel cancer and heart disease.

In 2006 (the most recent figures available), 21% of Queensland children between the ages of 5 years and 17 years were overweight or obese. 8 The Discussion Paper notes that obesity levels are rising in Queensland, 9 although the Healthy Kids Survey 2006 - Full Report notes that the rise appears to be at a slower rate than in the 1990s. 10 In 2004, the Queensland Parliamentary Library published a Research Brief examining the issue of childhood obesity. 11

FACTORS INFLUENCING CHILDRENS FOOD CHOICES

Television advertising is only one factor influencing childrens food choices. A 2004 United Kingdom Office of Communications (Ofcom) report titled Childhood Obesity Food Advertising in Context: Childrens food choices, parents understanding and influence, and the role of food promotion (the Ofcom Report) identified the following factors as those shown to influence childrens food choices: 12

psychosocial factors (e.g. food preferences, meanings of food, and food knowledge) biological factors (e.g. heredity, hunger and gender) behavioural factors (e.g. time and convenience, meal patterns, dieting) family (e.g. income, working status of mother, family eating patterns, parental weight, diet and knowledge)

Queensland Government, Have Your Say: Junk Food Advertising on Childrens Television: A Discussion Paper, p 3, citing RA Abbott, D Macdonald, L MacKinnon, CO Stubbs, AJ Lee, C Harper, PSW Davies. Healthy Kids Survey 2006 - Full Report, Brisbane: Queensland Health, 2007.
9

Queensland Government, Have Your Say: Junk Food Advertising on Childrens Television: A Discussion Paper, p 3.
10

RA Abbott, et al., Healthy Kids Survey 2006 - Full Report, p 11.

11

Childhood Obesity, Queensland Parliamentary Library, RBR 2004/10. Available on the Queensland Parliaments website at http://www.parliament.qld.gov.au/view/publications/documents/research/ResearchBriefs/2004/2004 10.pdf. UK Ofcom, Childhood Obesity Food Advertising in Context: Childrens food choices, parents understanding and influence, and the role of food promotion, 22 July 2004, p 10 (underlining in original text not replicated in quote).
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friends (e.g. conformity, norms and peer networks) schools (school meals, sponsorship, vending machines) commercial sites (fast food restaurants, stores) consumerism (youth market and pester power) media (food promotion, including television advertising).

Livingstone and Helspers web of causality model (reproduced below) 13 illustrates the interconnecting influences on childrens food preferences, consumption and behaviour:

The Ofcom Report concluded, on the basis of academic research, that junk food advertising has modest direct effects on childrens food preferences, 14 although it is considered to be small compared to other factors such as a childs taste preferences and peer pressure. 15 However, in terms of indirect effects, it has been argued that such effects of television junk food advertising on childrens food preferences may be substantial, 16 although this is difficult to prove. 17 An indirect effect occurs, for

13

S Livingstone and E Helsper, Advertising HFSS Foods to Children: Understanding Promotion in the Context of Childrens Daily Lives, 2004, cited in UK Ofcom, Childhood Obesity Food Advertising in Context: Childrens food choices, parents understanding and influence, and the role of food promotion, p 113, and reproduced from that report.
14

UK Ofcom, Childhood Obesity Food Advertising in Context: Childrens food choices, parents understanding and influence, and the role of food promotion, p 114.
15

UK Ofcom, Childhood Obesity Food Advertising in Context: Childrens food choices, parents understanding and influence, and the role of food promotion, p 114.
16

As noted by UK Ofcom, Childhood Obesity Food Advertising in Context: Childrens food choices, parents understanding and influence, and the role of food promotion, p 114.
17

S Livingstone, A Commentary on the Research Evidence Regarding the Effects of Food Promotion on Children, prepared for the Research Department of UK Ofcom, London School of Economics and Political Science, 2004, p 28.

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example, when a childs parents or peers watch television junk food advertisements which affect their views about diet, and in turn, their attitudes and behaviour impact on the child. 18

FOOD AND DRINK ADVERTISING DURING CHILDRENS TELEVISION VIEWING

On average, in 2004, children (aged 5 to 17 years) spent 2.1 hours per day watching television. 19 The limited OzTam 20 ratings data presented in Appendix B to the Australian Communications and Media Authoritys (ACMAs) Report of the Review of the Childrens Television Standards 2005 21 show that the greatest proportion of children aged 0-14 years watch television from around 6pm to 8pm. 22 The following table, reproduced from ACMAs report titled Economic Impact of Restrictions on Television Food and Beverage Advertising (ACMA Report) 23 (p 16), shows the number of advertisements for foods and beverages high in fat, salt or sugar (HFSS advertisements) 24 in metropolitan areas on weekdays in 2004, 2005 and 2006 per half hour per city:

18

Ofcom, Childhood Obesity Food Advertising in Context: Childrens food choices, parents understanding and influence, and the role of food promotion, p 114.
19

Australian Centre for Health Promotion, Food Advertising on Sydney Television: The Extent of Childrens Exposure, p 6 (down from 2.6 hours per day in 2002).
20

OzTam is the official source of television audience measurement: OzTam, Australian Television Audience Measurement.
21

Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), Review of the Childrens Television Standards 2005: Report of the Review, August 2008.
22

Note, however, there is no data after 8pm in Appendix B.

23

ACMA, Economic Impact of Restrictions on Television Food and Beverage Advertising, August 2008.

The classification in the ACMA Report consists of certain Nielson Media Research categories aerated soft drinks, energy drinks, biscuits, confectionery, ice cream, desserts, snack foods and takeaway/restaurants: ACMA, Economic Impact of Restrictions on Television Food and Beverage Advertising, p v.

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As noted in the ACMA Report (p 16), there are between one and five HFSS advertisements per half hour between 6am and midnight on television in Australian metropolitan areas, which means, on average, there are between 0.33 and 1.76 HFSS advertisements per half hour on each channel. The following graph, reproduced from p 17 of the ACMA Report, shows HFSS food and beverage advertisements as a percentage of total advertising on weekdays in metropolitan areas in 2004, 2005 and 2006. As can be seen by this graph, in 2004 and 2005, there was a spike in HFSS advertising around 4pm-4.30pm, which is a common time for television stations to broadcast childrens programs: 25

25

ACMA, Economic Impact of Restrictions on Television Food and Beverage Advertising, p 18.

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The graph below, reproduced from p 19 of ACMA Report, shows the average number of HFSS food and beverage impacts for child viewers (aged 0-14 years) across the day during 2006 in metropolitan areas. An impact is defined in the ACMA Report as one 0-14 year old viewing one HFSS advertisement. As is apparent from the graph, the greatest number of impacts was between 5pm and 10pm:

A report, prepared for NSW Health by the Australian Centre for Health Promotion, which examined the extent of childrens exposure to food advertising on Sydney television, found that around 26% of all advertisements were food advertisements.

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Forty-three percent of the food advertisements were for high fat/high sugar foods. 26 The study found that during certain limited childrens viewing times (i.e. CV1), 27 about 48% of the food advertisements were for high fat/high sugar food advertisements; that is, a rate of 3 per hour. During certain wider childrens viewing times (CV2), about 49% of food advertisements were for high fat/high sugar foods; that is, a rate of 3.5 per hour. The study found that advertisements for high fat/high sugar products were most frequent during programs with greater numbers of children watching. For example, about 66% of food advertisements were for high fat/high sugar foods during popular shows watched by children aged 5-12 years; that is, about 8 advertisements per hour. 28

5.1 CHILDRENS UNDERSTANDING OF TELEVISION ADVERTISING


Research has shown that until children are about 4 or 5 years old, they are unable to distinguish advertisements from other content on the television. Between this age and about 7 years of age, they are able to make the distinction but not necessarily understand the purpose of advertising. Once children are about 8 years old, they can generally understand the idea that the advertisements are intended to be persuasive. 29

26

Australian Centre for Health Promotion, Food Advertising on Sydney Television: The Extent of Childrens Exposure, p 5. Childrens viewing periods in the study were categorised into Childrens Television Viewing Hours One (CV1) and Childrens Television Viewing Hours Two (CV2). CV1 comprised 6:30am7:30am, 9am-9:30am and 3pm-4:30pm Monday to Friday, and 7am-11:30am Saturday and Sunday. CV2 comprised the hours considered to be childrens viewing hours in the Commercial Television Industry Code of Practice - 7am-8am and 4pm-8:30pm Monday to Friday, and 7am-8:30pm Saturday and Sunday: Australian Centre for Health Promotion, Food Advertising on Sydney Television: The Extent of Childrens Exposure, p 5.
28 27

Australian Centre for Health Promotion, Food Advertising on Sydney Television: The Extent of Childrens Exposure, p 5.
29

UK Ofcom, Childhood Obesity Food Advertising in Context: Childrens food choices, parents understanding and influence, and the role of food promotion, p 131.

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REGULATION OF JUNK FOOD ADVERTISING

Junk food advertising on television can be regulated by using such criteria as: 30

the type of program (e.g. childrens programs); the type of product being advertised (e.g. all food and beverages or those foods and beverages that are high in fat, salt, or sugar); the target audience (e.g. when large numbers of children are watching); the time of day; the content of the advertisement (e.g. use of personalities and premiums). 31

In Sweden, for example, all television advertising directed at children is prohibited as is most advertising during childrens programs, whereas, in the United Kingdom, it is only television advertising for HFSS foods that is prohibited on childrens channels, in and around childrens television times, and in and around programs which high numbers of children watch. 32

AUSTRALIA

Australia has a co-regulatory approach to childrens television broadcasting: 33

the Commonwealth Government regulates broadcasting through the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 (Cth), and childrens television, in particular, through the mandatory Childrens Television Standards made under that Act; the Australian Communications and Media Authority Act 2005 establishes ACMA and gives it responsibility for regulating broadcasting services in accordance with the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 (Cth); the Commercial Television Industry Code of Practice 2004 which is registered under the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 (Cth); and

E Handsley, K Mehta, J Coveney and C Nehmy, Regulatory Axes on Food Advertising to Children on Television, Australia and New Zealand Health Policy, 22 January 2009, pp 3-14 (page numbers have been allocated starting with the cover page) and SA Health, Television Advertising and the Consumption of Unhealthy Food and Drinks by Children, p 14.
31

30

A premium is a giveaway, such as a toy.

Regulation of junk food advertising in Sweden and the United Kingdom is discussed in Section 8 of this Research Brief.
33

32

SA Health, Television Advertising and the Consumption of Unhealthy Food and Drinks by Children, Consultation Paper, August 2008, Appendix 2, p 28.

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the advertising industry has voluntary codes of practice, such as the Australian Association of National Advertisers (AANA) Advertiser Code for Advertising to Children.

The food industry has also drafted its own code The Responsible Childrens Marketing Initiative. This and the above regulatory measures are discussed under the headings that follow.

7.1 BROADCASTING SERVICES ACT 1992 (CTH)


One of the objects of the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 (Cth) is to ensure that providers of broadcasting services place a high priority on the protection of children from exposure to program material which may be harmful to them. 34 Section 122 of the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 (Cth) requires ACMA to develop mandatory standards for broadcasters relating to programs for children on commercial free-to-air television. These standards are called the Childrens Television Standards. 35

7.1.1

Childrens Television Standards

Amongst other things, the Childrens Television Standards (CTS):


require broadcasters to broadcast certain numbers of hours per year of C and P programs. 36 do not permit advertisements to be broadcast during P periods. 37 in general, allow a maximum of 5 minutes of commercials in each 30 minutes of a C period; 38

34

Section 3(j) of the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 (Cth).

35

SA Health, Television Advertising and the Consumption of Unhealthy Food and Drinks by Children, Appendix 2, p 28. A C program is one that has been classified by ACMA as being suitable for children aged under 14 years (not including preschool children). P programs have been classified by ACMA as being suitable for preschool children: CTS 1 and 3. A P period is a period nominated by a broadcaster to broadcast P programs during the P band. The P band is between 7am and 4:30pm Monday to Friday: CTS 1. The C period is the time nominated by a broadcaster to broadcast C programs during the C band. The C band lies between 7am and 8am and between 4pm and 8:30pm Monday to Friday, and between 7am and 8:30am on weekends and during school holidays: CTS 1, 13 and 14.
38 37 36

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prohibit advertisements for food products from containing any misleading or incorrect information about the nutritional value of the product; 39 limit the number of times a commercial can be repeated during C programs; 40 require that children are able to clearly distinguish between advertisements and the program content; 41 do not permit broadcasters to broadcast advertisements that place undue pressure on children to ask their parents or others to purchase an advertised product or service; 42 require that advertisements must accurately represent the advertised product or service; 43 provide that if a premium is offered, any reference to it must be incidental to the main product or service advertised and that any conditions which must be met before obtaining the premium must be clearly presented. 44

Concerns have been expressed about the CTS by groups such as the Cancer Council of New South Wales. It considers that the CTS are not sufficiently restrictive and there is no regulator monitoring compliance with the regulations as it is reliant on the public to complain about breaches of the CTS. 45

7.1.2

Draft Childrens Television Standards

The CTS are currently being reviewed. The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) released the draft Childrens Television Standards 2008 (draft Standards) for public and industry comment in August 2008. 46 The final

39

CTS 17 and 19(6). CTS 16. CTS 15. CTS 18. CTS 19. CTS 20.

40

41

42

43

44

The Cancer Council New South Wales, Television Advertising to Children: Current Regulations, last updated May 2008. ACMA, ACMA Media Release 105/2008, 27 August 2008. The closing date for comments was 31 October 2008. The current Childrens Television Standards 2005, Report for the Review, submissions to the review and other related documents are available at Childrens Television Standards Review, last updated 9 April 2009.
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45

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version of the new CTS is expected to be gazetted in mid 2009. 47 The draft Standards were developed taking into account submissions responding to ACMAs Childrens Television Standards Review Issues Paper (Issues Paper) 48 as well as issues of concern to broadcasters and the community, and a significant body of research. 49 One of the key issues raised in the Issues Paper was whether the standards should be amended to specifically address the issue of food advertising directed at children. 50 Under the draft Standards, there is no general restriction on food and beverage advertising to children. 51 Chris Chapman, the ACMA Chairman, explained the reason for ACMAs position: 52
in assessing whether or not a ban on food and beverage advertising would have an impact on childhood obesity, ACMA commissioned an independent review of research on the issue. Childhood obesity is a highly complex issue and the review found that there was not a sufficient consensus on the impact of banning food and beverage advertising on obesity levels The research does indicate that there is a relationship between advertising and childrens food and beverage preferences and requests. It also indicates a relationship between television viewing (as distinct from television advertising specifically) and obesity in children. However, existing research does not clearly demonstrate a causal relationship between any of these factors and obesity indeed only a modest association is apparent. ACMA has formed the view that restricting food and beverage advertising, particularly without a tool to identify high fat, salt, sugar products, would be a blunt form of regulatory intervention, with significant cost to the commercial television sector and uncertain national benefits. Such restrictions would also prevent healthy food and beverage products from being advertised.

47

ACMA, Childrens Television Standards Review, last updated 9 April 2009.

48

The final date for submissions was 17 August 2007: ACMA, ACMA Calls for Submissions on Issues Paper as Part of its Review of Childrens Television Standards, ACMA Media Release 72/2007, 26 June 2007.
49

ACMA, Childrens Television Standards Review.

50

ACMA, ACMA Calls for Submissions on Issues Paper as Part of its Review of Childrens Television Standards, ACMA Media Release 72/2007, 26 June 2007.
51

ACMA, ACMA Media Release 105/2008, 27 August 2008. ACMA, ACMA Media Release 105/2008, 27 August 2008.

52

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Submissions A range of views on the draft Standards were received by ACMA. Some submissions on the matter stated that, as there is no clear causal link between junk food advertising and childrens obesity, there is no reason to restrict junk food advertising. Other submissions argued that junk food advertising should be restricted because it encourages children to eat unhealthy foods. 53 The submitters who were in favour of regulation suggested a range of alternatives for how food and drink advertising should be regulated. The Australasian Society for the Study of Obesity, for example, submitted that junk food should not be advertised between 5:30pm and 9:30pm, nor should it be advertised during P, C or G classified programs. 54 Its view was premised on the idea that junk food advertising is not only contributing to rising childhood obesity levels, but it is also ethically wrong because children are unable to make informed food choices based on advertising. 55 On the other hand, the Confectionery Manufacturers of Australasia, for example, submitted that the CTS is not the place for addressing obesity; this should be achieved through voluntary, responsible marketing of products 56 In essence, the Confectionery Manufacturers of Australasia advocated a self-regulatory and informative approach, such as that undertaken by confectionery makers in Australia.

7.2 INDUSTRY CODES

7.2.1

Commercial Television Industry Code of Practice 2004

The Commercial Television Industry Code of Practice 2004 (CTICP) was developed by Free TV Australia 57 and registered by ACMA under section 123 of

53

ACMA, Economic Impact of Restrictions on Television Food and Beverage Advertising, August 2008, p 7. Australasian Society for the Study of Obesity, Submission, p 2. Australasian Society for the Study of Obesity, Submission, p 4.

54

55

56

Confectionery Manufacturers of Australasia, Submission to Review of Childrens Television Standards (CTS), 31 October 2008, p 1. Free TV Australia represents all of Australias commercial free-to-air television licensees: Free TV Australia, About Free TV.
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the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 (Cth). It operates alongside the CTS. Clause 6.23 of the CTICP states that advertisements directed to children under 14 years for food and/or beverages:

should not encourage or promote an inactive lifestyle; should not encourage or promote unhealthy eating or drinking habits; must not contain any misleading or incorrect information about the nutritional value of the product.

To help licensees determine whether a commercial is directed to children, the CTICP includes an advisory note Commercials or Community Service Announcements Directed to Children (p 64) which sets out factors for consideration, such as the type of product and the style of the advertisement.

7.2.2

Code for Advertising to Children

Clause 2.10 of the Australian Association of National Advertisers (AANA) Advertiser Code for Advertising to Children, a voluntary industry code, has particular relevance to junk food advertising. It states that advertisements to children for food and/or beverages:

should not encourage or promote an inactive lifestyle combined with unhealthy eating or drinking habits; and must not contain any misleading or incorrect information about the nutritional value of that product.

Some of the other provisions in the Advertiser Code for Advertising to Children reflect matters covered in the CTS, such as the use of premiums, and the requirement that advertisements not mislead or deceive children.

7.2.3

AANA Food and Beverages Code

Clause 3 of the Australian Association of National Advertisers (AANA) Food and Beverages Advertising and Marketing Communications Code also deals with advertising to children. Amongst other things, it stipulates that advertising to children shall not aim to undermine the role of parents or carers in guiding diet and lifestyle choices. 58

58

Clause 3.4 of the AANAs Food and Beverages Advertising and Marketing Communications Code.

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7.2.4

The Responsible Childrens Marketing Initiative

In October 2008, in response to community concerns regarding some food advertising during childrens television programs, 59 the Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC) 60 published The Responsible Childrens Marketing Initiative (the Initiative). According to the AFGC, the aim of the Initiative is to provide a framework for food and beverage companies to help promote healthy dietary choices and lifestyles to Australian children. 61 Companies that sign the Initiative will have to meet its core principles. Amongst the core principles is one concerning advertising messaging: 62
Participants will not advertise food and beverage products to children under 12 in media unless: 1. those products represent healthy dietary choices, consistent with established scientific or Australian government standards. AND 2. the advertising and/or marketing communication activities reference, or are in the context of, a healthy lifestyle, designed to appeal to the intended audience through messaging that encourages:

good dietary habits, consistent with established scientific or government criteria physical activity.

The Initiative came into force on 1 January 2009. 63

7.2.5

Nestl

Nestl is an example of a manufacturer that is taking action to limit its television junk food advertising to children. In July 2007 (taking effect on 1 January 2009),

59

Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC), Industry to address community concerns about inappropriate advertising to kids, 24 October 2008. The AFGC is the national body representing the nations food and grocery products manufacturers: AFGC, About AFGC: Overview.
61 60

AFGC, The Responsible Childrens Marketing Initiative of the Australian Food and Beverage Industry.
62

AFGC, Responsible Childrens Marketing Initiative, Core Principles. AFGC, Food Manufacturers Commit to Limit Advertising, Media Release, 5 January 2009.

63

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Nestl (the worlds largest food manufacturer 64 ) added two principles to its existing list of Consumer Communication Principles: 65

no advertising or marketing to be directed at children under 6 years of age; and advertising directed at children aged between 6 years and 12 years to be limited to products with a nutritional profile which helps children achieve a healthy balanced diet, including clear limits to product size and ingredients such as sugar, salt and fat. 66

Nestls nutritional profiling system is based on scientific research and public health recommendations of the World Health Organisation and United States Medical Institute 67 . Nestls Uncle Tobys Fruit Roll Ups, for example, do not meet the nutritional criteria and, therefore, Nestl says that it will not be advertised until the recipe has been altered to meet the criteria. 68 In addition, in Australia, Nestl has signed the Responsible Childrens Marketing Initiative (discussed above). 69

7.3 PROTECTING CHILDREN FROM JUNK FOOD (BROADCASTING AMENDMENT) BILL 2008 (CTH)

ADVERTISING

Senator Bob Brown (Australian Greens) introduced the Protecting Children from Junk Food Advertising (Broadcasting Amendment) Bill 2008 (Cth) into the Senate on 4 September 2008. The bill revises the Protecting Children from Junk Food Advertising Bill 2006 which was introduced by Senator Lyn Allison (Australian Democrats) on 30 March 2006. 70 Like Senator Allisons bill, Senator Browns bill

64

Nestl, About Us.

The Consumer Communication Principles deal with matters such as encouraging healthy eating and not undermining parental authority: Nestl, Advertising to Children: Nestle Commitment.
66

65

Nestl, Advertising to Children: Nestle Commitment. Simon Cann, Food Giant Takes Sugar Hit to Sweeten Image, Australian, 19 November 2008, p 1. Simon Cann, Food Giant Takes Sugar Hit to Sweeten Image.

67

68

AFGC, Food Manufacturers Commit to Limit Advertising,.Nestl has joined similar programs in Europe, Canada, the United States and Thailand: Nestl, Advertising to Children: Nestle Commitment. Senator Bob Brown, Protecting Children from Junk Food Advertising (Broadcasting Amendment) Bill 2008, Second Reading, Senate Parliamentary Debates, 4 September 2008, pp 4502-4503, p 4502.
70

69

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seeks to prohibit the broadcasting of television advertisements for junk food during childrens programs. In his Second Reading Speech, Senator Brown said: 71
Childhood obesity is a complex issue with many causal factors. An advertising ban alone will not eliminate the problem of obesity but it is a sensible first step that has the support of health experts, including doctors, community groups and, most importantly, parents. ... It has been estimated that the average Australian child watches 96 food advertisements a week, 63 of which are for high fat or high sugar foods. ... Many parents do not have the knowledge or the time or the energy to resist the constant pestering by their children or the misinformation directed at children through junk food advertising. The parliament should regulate the junk food industry to protect the health of Australian children. Restrictions on junk food advertising to children exist in the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Denmark and Sweden, as well as in Quebec in Canada. The South Australian and Queensland governments have recently announced they will introduce bans on junk food during childrens televisions [sic] shows. It is remarkable that, in the face of alarming statistics on the increase in childhood obesity in Australia and the international trend to tightly regulate junk food advertising to children, the Australian Communications and Media Authority recently rejected calls for further restrictions in its draft review of the Childrens Television Standards. The failure of the ACMA to act on this critical issue was condemned by the Australian Medical Association and the community organisation, the Parents Jury.

The Second Reading debate on Senator Browns bill was adjourned most recently on 12 March 2009, while the Second Reading debate on Senator Allisons bill was adjourned on 30 March 2006. 72 The Selection of Bills Committee prepared reports on both bills, 73 and the Community Affairs Committee tabled a report 74 (including

Senator Bob Brown, Protecting Children from Junk Food Advertising (Broadcasting Amendment) Bill 2008, Second Reading, pp 4502-4503. The status of these bills can be found at http://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/search/display/display.w3p;query=Id%3A%22legislation%2Fbill slst%2Fbillslst_e7f767a9-2e68-4af4-82b8-61729b26a212%22 under Private Senators Bills. Australian Senate, Selection of Bills Committee, Report No 10 of 2008, p 3 and Australian Senate, Selection of Bills Committee, Report No 3 of 2008 and Australian Senate, Selection of Bills Committee, Report No 7 of 2006.
74 73 72

71

The Senate Standing Committee on Community Affairs, Protecting Children from Junk Food Advertising (Broadcasting Amendment) Bill 2008, December 2008.

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a dissenting report) on Senator Browns bill on 2 December 2008. The Community Affairs Committee concluded (pp 17-18) that it was premature to legislate on junk food advertising while the National Obesity Strategy was being developed by the National Preventative Health Taskforce and before the industrys initiatives regarding responsible advertising could be properly assessed. The Committee recommended (p 18) that the Bill not be passed. The Government has declared its intention to oppose the bill. 75

7.4 SOUTH AUSTRALIA


The South Australian Government may consider banning junk food advertising on television during childrens viewing times. 76 It released a consultation paper, Television Advertising and the Consumption of Unhealthy Food and Drinks by Children in August 2008 in which (p 2) the Government reaffirmed its preference for advertisers and the food industry to voluntarily restrict advertising of junk food to children. The Government prefers a national approach, but it says that if this does not happen, it will consider introducing legislation on the matter.

7.5 NEW SOUTH WALES


The New South Wales Government also may consider restricting junk food advertising during childrens television programming. 77 In a media release on 13 October 2008, the Minister for Health, the Hon John Della Bosca MLC, expressed concern that the draft CTS do not contain restrictions on junk food advertising on childrens television. He commented that it would be simple to restrict high fat and high salt food advertising in the CTS. He said: 78

75

Senator DE Farrell, Protecting Children from Junk Food Advertising (Broadcasting Amendment) Bill 2008, Second Reading, Senate Parliamentary Debates, 12 March 2009, p 64.

The Hon John Hill MP, Minister for Health, Minister for the Southern Suburbs and Minister Assisting the Premier in the Arts, SA Call to Ban Junk Food Ads for Kids, News Release, 8 February 2008 and the Hon John Hill MP, Govt Takes Next Step on Limiting Junk Food Ads, News Release, 26 August 2008.
77

76

Julian Lee and Natasha Wallace, NSW Close to Banning Junk Food Ads During Childrens Television Programs, smh.com.au, 30 October 2008. The Hon John Della Bosca MLC, Minister for Health, Minister for the Central Coast and Leader of the Government in the Legislative Council, Protecting Children from Junk Food Advertising, Media Statement, 13 October 2008.
78

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Just because high sugar and high fat products now dominate the airwaves, doesnt mean we should accept the argument that restrictions would have too great an economic impact on the broadcasters. The impact on children and our community must come first

In the Legislative Council on 28 October 2008, the Minister for Health called on ACMA to rethink its draft standards with respect to high fat and high salt foods. 79

OVERSEAS JURISDICTIONS

As noted above, other countries have taken different approaches to the regulation of junk food advertising. This section of the paper provides information about the regulation of junk food advertising in a selection of overseas jurisdictions.

8.1 AUSTRIA
In Austria, advertising is not permitted during childrens programs. 80

8.2 FLANDERS, BELGIUM


Flanders, the Dutch-speaking part of Belgium, prohibits all advertising within five minutes of a Dutch-language childrens television program broadcast within the country. 81

8.3 IRELAND
Ireland is awaiting the results of an 11 country study, to be completed in 2010, before deciding its policy on television advertising of HFSS foods to children. It currently bans the use of celebrities and sports stars in food and drink 82 advertisements directed at children.

79

The Hon John Della Bosca MLC, Junk Food Advertising, New South Wales Legislative Council, Parliamentary Debates, 28 October 2008, pp 10624-10625.

As shown in a Broadcasting Commission of Ireland Report: Dr Ruth-Blandina M Quinn, Advertising and Children, 2002, p 25.
81

80

Brandon Michener, Sweden Pushes Its Ban on Childrens Ads: Broad Campaign is Waged in EU on TV Commercials, Wall Street Journal, 29 May 2001.
82

Ruadhan MacCormaic, Food Advertising to Children Faces Scrutiny, IrishTimes, 20 November 2008.

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8.4 NORWAY
Advertisements cannot target children, nor can they be broadcast during childrens programs or within 10 minutes before or after a childrens broadcast. 83 The Regulations on Broadcasting provide criteria against which a program can be judged to determine whether it is a childrens program, such as: 84

the content and form of the program; whether children under the age of 13 are featured in the program; and the time of the broadcast.

The criteria by which it can be determined whether an advertisement is targeted at children include: 85

whether the advertisement concerns a product or a service of particular interest to children; the time the advertisement is broadcast; if children under the age of 13 are featured in the advertisement; and if the form of presentation used particularly appeals to children.

The Regulations reflect a general concern that children are more susceptible to advertising than adults. 86

8.5 QUEBEC
The Consumer Protection Act, which came into force in 1980, prohibits commercial advertising directed at children aged under 13 years. 87 Section 249 of

83

Chapter 3-1 Broadcasting Act (Norway). See also Dag Gronnestad, Norway, in European Audiovisual Observatory, Regulation on Advertising Aimed at Children in EU-Member States and Some Neighbouring States: The Legal Framework, 2000, 2000, p 48.
84

D Gronnestad, Norway, in European Audiovisual Observatory, p 48. D Gronnestad, Norway, in European Audiovisual Observatory, p 48. D Gronnestad, Norway, in European Audiovisual Observatory, p 86.

85

86

Section 248 of the Consumer Protection Act. Note, however, that Quebec receives television signals from elsewhere in Canada as well as from the US and these stations are not subject to the ban: Parliament of South Australia, Social Development Committee, Fast Foods and Obesity Inquiry, 25th Report of the Social Development Committee, March 2007, p 58.

87

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the Consumer Protection Act provides criteria to help determine whether or not an advertisement is directed at persons under 13 years of age. It provides that account must be taken of the context of the advertisements presentation, and in particular of:

the nature and intended purpose of the goods advertised; the manner of presenting such advertisement; and the time and place it is shown.

Industry appealed to the courts after the Consumer Protection Act was enacted on the basis that it restricted freedom of expression as guaranteed by the Charter of Rights. In a 1989 decision, the Supreme Court of Canada held that while the Act limited freedom of expression it did so to protect a group which is particularly vulnerable to the techniques of seduction and manipulation abundant in advertising and was therefore justifiable. 88

8.6 SPAIN
The Strategy for Nutrition, Physical Activity and Prevention of Obesity (the NAOS Strategy) was launched in February 2005, with the goal of promoting a healthy diet and physical activity. 89 The Code of Self-Regulation of the Advertising of Food Products Directed at Minors, Prevention of Obesity and Health (the PAOS Code) forms part of the NAOS Strategy framework. The PAOS Code was developed with the aim of reducing the prevalence of obesity and overweight and their consequences 90 It prohibits television advertising of food and drink products during programs directed at children aged under 12 years. 91 It also limits how products can be advertised to children regarding such matters as product presentation, use of famous people and

88

World Health Organisation, Marketing of Food and Non-Alcoholic Beverages to Children: Report of a WHO Forum and Technical Meeting Oslo, Norway, 2-5 May 2006, p 17.
89

World Health Organisation, p 18.

90

European Environment and Health Committee, Spain: The PAOS Code: Code of Self-Regulation of the Advertisement of Food Products Directed to Minors, Prevention of Obesity and Health, updated 11 June 2008.
91

GW Volz, Notes on the PAOS Code/Spain, Adlaw.

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promotions. 92 Companies that breach the code can face fines of between 6000 and 180,000. 93 The Code was signed by the Ministry of Health and the Food and Drink Industry Federation (FIAB) in June 2005 and came into effect in September of that year. The companies that have signed up to the PAOS Code include the Coca-Cola Company, the Kellogg Company and Nestl. 94

8.7 SWEDEN
In 1991, Sweden implemented a ban on television advertising directed at children aged under 12 years. 95 In a speech delivered in 1999, the Swedish Consumer Ombudsman said that the ban was introduced because young children do not understand the purpose of advertising, and may not be able to differentiate advertising content from program content. 96 The ban is now contained in section 4 of Chapter 7 of the Radio and Television Act 1996. It provides that commercial advertising in a television broadcast may not be designed to attract the attention of children under 12 years of age. It also prohibits individuals or characters who play a prominent role in programs which are primarily aimed at children under 12 years of age from appearing in commercial advertising in a television broadcast. Section 7b of Chapter 7 of the Act prohibits the broadcasting of commercials immediately before or after a program or part of a program that is primarily aimed at children under 12 years of age, except in certain circumstances. The criteria for assessing whether an advertisement is designed to attract the attention of children under 12 years of age are: 97

For instance, advertisements for food and drinks must not mislead children about benefits derived from the consumption thereof; advertising should not use sales pressure; famous and certain other people cannot be used in advertising to children; and food and drink advertising must be clearly separates from programs.
93

92

GW Volz, Notes on the PAOS Code/Spain, Adlaw. GW Volz, Notes on the PAOS Code/Spain, Adlaw.

94

95

A Edling, Swedish Consumer Ombudsman on TV Advertising to Children, 2 December 1999. Note, however, that at least two of Swedens free-to-air television stations are based in the United Kingdom and are therefore not subject to the ban: Parliament of South Australia Social Development Committee, Fast Foods and Obesity Inquiry, p 58.
96

A Edling, Swedish Consumer Ombudsman on TV Advertising to Children.

97

Consumer Ombudsmans Interpretative Advice on the Prohibition of Commercial Advertising to Children on Television.

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the type of product (for example, many toys and games inside breakfast cereal packets are intended for children under 12 years of age); the design of the advertisement (for example, if it contains pictures or sounds that appeal to children, it may be considered to be aimed at children under 12 years of age); and the context of the broadcast (for example, if the advertisement is broadcast after 9pm, it is unlikely to be considered to be aimed at children under 12 years of age because few are watching the television at that time, particularly between Monday and Thursday).

8.8 UNITED KINGDOM


The United Kingdom Government has banned television advertising of HFSS products (as determined using a nutrient profiling scheme developed by the UK Food Standards Authority):

on childrens channels; in and around childrens 98 television times; and in and around programs with a disproportionately high child audience. 99

The United Kingdom Government took action to reduce the exposure of children to HFSS advertising, as a means of reducing opportunities to persuade children to demand and consume HFSS products. 100 It tried to minimise the impact of the restrictions on advertising during adult airtime on the basis that adults are able to make informed decisions about advertising messages. 101

98

For the purposes of the Ofcom Report, children are aged 4-15 years: UK Ofcom, Childhood Obesity Food Advertising in Context: Childrens food choices, parents understanding and influence, and the role of food promotion. UK Ofcom, Changes in the nature and balance of television food advertising to children. The bans were phased in progressively from April 2007: UK Ofcom, Changes in the Nature and Balance of Television Food Advertising to Children: A Review of HFSS Advertising Restrictions, 2008, p 1.
100 99

UK Ofcom, Changes in the Nature and Balance of Television Food Advertising to Children: A Review of HFSS Advertising Restrictions, p 1.
101

UK Ofcom, Changes in the Nature and Balance of Television Food Advertising to Children: A Review of HFSS Advertising Restrictions, p 4.

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Ofcom conducted a review in 2008 of the impact of the HFSS restrictions. 102 It compared television advertising of HFSS products between 2005 and 2008 to see if changes had occurred. 103 By way of background, the study found that while children are watching approximately the same amount of television, they are watching proportionately more programs on digital television channels than on public service broadcasting channels. The number of food and drink advertisements has increased, but as a proportion of total television advertising they have remained at a stable level. Food and drink advertising has shifted from childrens airtime to adult airtime, probably as a result of the restrictions during childrens airtime. 104 The study found that there has been a significant reduction in HFSS impacts for 4-15 year olds. 105 It estimates that in 2007-08, children saw about 1/3 fewer advertisements for HFSS products than they did in 2005 (and it speculates that it is likely that there will be further reductions when the final phase of the bans are taken into account). 106 The study also found that in 2007-08 children saw: 107

69% less advertisements featuring licensed characters; and 36% less advertisements with promotions;

than they did in 2005.

102

The report, Changes in the Nature and Balance of Television Food Advertising to Children: A Review of HFSS Advertising Restrictions, is available at http://www.ofcom.org.uk/research/tv/reports/hfssdec08/hfssdec08.pdf.

The final phase of the ban commenced on 1 January 2009 (banning HFSS advertisements on childrens channels) so the review does not take into account any further changes that may result from it. Another review will be undertaken in 2010 when full year data for 2008 and 2009 is available: Ofcom, Changes in the Nature and Balance of Television Food Advertising to Children: A Review of HFSS Advertising Restrictions, p 5.
104

103

UK Ofcom, Changes in the Nature and Balance of Television Food Advertising to Children: A Review of HFSS Advertising Restrictions, p 2.
105

UK Ofcom, Changes in the Nature and Balance of Television Food Advertising to Children: A Review of HFSS Advertising Restrictions, p 2.
106

UK Ofcom, Children Watching Fewer TV Adverts for Less Healthy Foods, Review Finds, 17 December 2008 and UK OfCom: Changes in the Nature and Balance of Television Food Advertising to Children: A Review of HFSS Advertising Restrictions, p 3.
107

UK Ofcom, Changes in the Nature and Balance of Television Food Advertising to Children: A Review of HFSS Advertising Restrictions, p 4.

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While the bans have impacted on broadcasters, the impact has not been as great as was expected (although broadcasters noted that it was difficult to separate the effects on HFSS advertising from those on other advertising). 108

8.9 UNITED STATES


The advertising of junk food is industry self-regulated in the United States, but Jon Leibowitz, (now) chair of the Federal Trade Commission, said in July 2007 that if obesity rates continue to rise and voluntary programs are not successful, there will be pressure for the government to intervene. 109 A number of food and beverage businesses, such as Kraft Foods Inc and The CocaCola Company, 110 participate in the Childrens Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative. The Council of Better Business Bureaus, which launched the Initiative in November 2006, describes it as a transparent and accountable advertising selfregulation mechanism. 111 Amongst other things, the Initiative requires participants to devote at least 50% of their television advertising which is primarily directed to children under 12 years of age to advertising that will further the goal of promoting healthy dietary choices and healthy lifestyles. 112

ARGUMENTS AGAINST REGULATING ADVERTISING ON TELEVISION

JUNK

FOOD

The Foundation for Advertising Research contends that prohibitions on television junk food advertising do not work because advertising does not increase total

108

UK Ofcom, Changes in the Nature and Balance of Television Food Advertising to Children: A Review of HFSS Advertising Restrictions, p 46.
109

Jon Leibowitz, Childhood Obesity and the Obligations of Food Marketers or Whether or Not You Are Part of the Problem, You Need to be Part of the Solution, FTC-HHS Forum on Childhood Obesity: Weighing In: A Check-Up on Marketing, Self-Regulation & Childhood Obesity, 18 July 2007, p 6.
110

Better Business Bureau, Childrens Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative. Better Business Bureau, About the Initiative. Better Business Bureau, Childrens Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative, p 1.

111

112

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consumption; it just changes peoples preference from one brand to another. 113 The Foundation suggests that if a ban is implemented, it will result in food producers resorting to reducing the cost of junk food so consumers will buy, and thus consume, more junk food. 114 It also considers that a ban would stifle innovation in food and beverage reformulation. 115 The Foundation points out that, over the preceding two to four years, considerable investment has been made in reformulating foods and beverages to reduce sugar and saturated fat levels. The Foundation contends that if a junk food advertising ban were implemented, there would be no incentive to reformulate products. 116 The National Association of Retail Grocers of Australia argues that a ban on junk food advertising on childrens television would have impacts, including: 117

decreasing revenue in the food sector; and a reduction in the level of employment in the sector.

ACMAs Economic Impact of Restrictions on Television Food and Beverage Advertising identified that advertising restrictions are likely to result in a reduction in advertising revenue for the commercial free-to-air television industry, and may affect program quality in some cases. 118

113

Foundation for Advertising Research, Further Submission by the Foundation for Advertising Research, to the Australian Communications and Media Authority on the Childrens Television Standards Review, p 2.
114

Foundation for Advertising Research, Further Submission, p 2. Foundation for Advertising Research, Further Submission, p 2. Foundation for Advertising Research, Further Submission , p 3.

115

116

National Association of Retail Grocers of Australia, Submission to the Inquiry into Fast Foods and Obesity by the Social Development Committee South Australian Parliament, August 2006, p 17.
118

117

ACMA, Effects of Advertising Restrictions on Broadcasters Revenue, p 36. In 2001, broadcasters in the EU argued that the revenue generated by television advertisements for childrens products (between 670 million euros and 1 billion euros) is required for the production of quality childrens programs; without it they would not be able to afford such programs: B Michener, Sweden Pushes Its Ban on Childrens Ads: Broad Campaign is Waged in EU on TV Commercials, Wall Street Journal, 29 May 2001.

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10 ARGUMENTS IN FAVOUR OF REGULATING JUNK FOOD ADVERTISING ON TELEVISION


The goal of the Coalition on Food Advertising to Children is to seek a ban on all television food and beverage advertising during programs where children [aged 013 years] make up a significant proportion of the viewing audience. 119 Significant proportion is defined as when 10% or more of the children in Australia are in the viewing audience of a timeslot. 120 The rationale for the goal reflects many of the arguments put forward by the Coalition on Food Advertising to Children and others who advocate regulating junk food advertising on childrens television. The rationale is: 121

Children are a nave and vulnerable audience, who do not fully comprehend the purpose of advertising and marketing. Society has a responsibility to protect children from undue commercial influences. Advertising increases childrens requests for advertised products (Pester Power) and undermines parents attempts to provide a healthy diet for their children. Childrens dietary choices have immediate and long-term effects on their health. The epidemic of overweight and obesity is rapidly increasing and places children at increased risk of many other chronic diseases. A 1996 study of 13 economically developed countries showed that Australia had the highest number of television food advertisements per hour The vast majority of television food advertisements are for foods of low nutritional value, which are high in fat, sugar, or salt. Current Australian regulations and codes of practice are ineffective at protecting children from large volumes of TV advertisements for such foods. The causes and solutions of childhood obesity are multi-factorial. The overwhelming weight of the evidence suggests strong causal links between food promotions and childrens food preferences, household purchases, and childrens food consumption patterns. Bans on television food advertising to children are likely to be a cost-effective strategy as part of a comprehensive approach to obesity prevention.

119

Coalition on Food Advertising to Children (CFAC), Childrens Health or Corporate Wealth: The Case for Banning Television Food Advertising to Children, 2nd ed, 2007, p 3.
120

CFAC, Childrens Health or Corporate Wealth: The Case for Banning Television Food Advertising to Children, p 3.
121

CFAC, Childrens Health or Corporate Wealth: The Case for Banning Television Food Advertising to Children, p 3.

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11 PUBLIC VIEWS ON JUNK FOOD ADVERTISING


A 2006 telephone survey of 2,000 South Australian adults, commissioned by SA Department of Health, showed: 122

78% of those surveyed agreed or strongly agreed that: there is too much advertising of unhealthy food during childrens viewing time. 84% agreed or strongly agreed that: television advertisements for food such as chocolates and lollies and food from fast food restaurants cause children to purchase the food advertised. 90% agreed or strongly agreed that: the advertising on television of toys and giveaways associated with food products influences children to want to buy the food.

A 2006 Newspoll survey, commissioned by Choice, of 1,200 Australian consumers found: 123

82% of the people surveyed wanted the government to regulate advertising that is directed at children. 65% said that the government should restrict (but not completely stop) companies from advertising unhealthy foods and drinks during television programs that are popular with children, and 24% thought that the practice should be stopped completely. Ten percent said that the practice should not be regulated at all. 59% said that the government should restrict (but not stop completely) the practice of food and drink companies marketing unhealthy products to children by using cartoon characters, popular media personalities or toys. Twenty-six percent of people wanted the practice prohibited while 13% said that the practice should not be regulated by government.

Queensland Health funded a 2007 telephone survey of 400 primary caregivers of one or more children under 14 years of age. The study found: 124

122

SA Health, Television Advertising and the Consumption of Unhealthy Food and Drinks by Children, p 7.
123

Choice, Little Bellies, Big Problems: How Parents, Industry and Government Can Solve Australias Childhood Obesity Crisis, pp 2-3. The remaining percentages comprise those who said None/dont know. BC Morley, National Community Survey of TV Food Advertising to Children, Centre for Behavioural Research in Cancer, The Cancer Council Victoria, prepared for Coalition on Food Advertising to Children (research funded by a grant from Queensland Health), 7 May 2007.
124

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67.3% of the people surveyed were somewhat or very concerned about the advertising of unhealthy food at times when children are likely to watch television; 67.7% were somewhat or very concerned about the use of popular personalities to promote unhealthy foods to children; 69.6% were somewhat or very concerned about food advertising that promotes only the healthy aspects of the product; 76.4% were somewhat or very concerned about food advertising that promotes free toys or gifts with products in food advertisements; 79.7% were somewhat or very concerned about the amount of television advertising of unhealthy food at times when children watch television; 73.4% disagreed or strongly disagreed that the current television advertising regulations are effective; 92.0% supported changes to the system to enable action to be taken against breaches of the regulations any time they occur, regardless of whether a formal complaint is made; 88.7% agreed or strongly agreed that the government should introduce stronger restrictions on food advertising at times when children watch television; and when the surveyed people were asked to select which one following options (relating to proposed restrictions on television advertising to children) they most strongly supported:

a total ban on all food advertising; a ban on all food advertising at times when children watch television; a total ban on advertising of unhealthy foods; a ban on advertising of unhealthy foods when children watch television; none of the above;

around 55% of those surveyed most strongly supported a ban on advertising of unhealthy foods at times when children watch television. 125 These surveys show that there is concern in the community, particularly amongst parents and other caregivers, about junk food advertising. The majority of the respondents in each survey want government to regulate, at least to some extent, junk food advertising on television.

125

27.6% most strongly supported a total ban on advertising of unhealthy foods, 8.2% most strongly supported a ban on all food advertising at times when children watch television, 2.4% most strongly supported a ban on all food advertising, and 6.8% most strongly supported none of the restrictions: BC Morley, National Community Survey of TV Food Advertising to Children, pp 9-10.

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12 CONCLUSION
Submissions to the Queensland Governments Have Your Say: Junk Food Advertising on Childrens Television: A Discussion Paper closed on 31 October 2008, as did consultation on the South Australian Governments Consultation Paper. Second Reading debate on the Protecting Children from Junk Food Advertising (Broadcasting Amendment) Bill 2008 (Cth) was adjourned most recently on 12 March 2009, but the bill is unlikely to be enacted because the Federal Government opposes it. 126 While there is much public support for regulation of junk food advertising on childrens television, to date, no Australian jurisdiction has passed such legislation. There is no general agreement on the type of restrictions on junk food advertising on childrens television, if any, that should be introduced, and on what criteria these restrictions should be based. Should the restrictions, for example, be based on childrens programs, peak childrens viewing times, all childrens viewing times or the type of product? If it is the type of product, should it be all food and beverages or just those that are high in fat or salt or sugar? If the restrictions are based on food and beverages that are high in fat or salt or sugar, what criteria should be used to classify products? Obesity is a multi-factorial problem and, therefore, regulating junk food advertising on childrens television is unlikely, by itself, to be a golden bullet. However, many stakeholders believe that restricting junk food advertising during childrens television viewing hours will assist in reducing levels of childhood obesity. On the other hand, others are concerned that such restrictions may reduce the income of broadcasters and thereby lead to a reduction in the quality of childrens programs.

126

Senator D Farrell, Protecting Children from Junk Food Advertising (Broadcasting Amendment) Bill 2008, Second Reading, Senate Parliamentary Debates, 12 March 2009, p 64.

RECENT QPL RESEARCH PUBLICATIONS 2009


01/2009 02/2009 03/2009 04/2009 05/2009 06/2009 07/2009 Sales of Prisoner Artwork under the Corrective Services and Other Legislation Amendment Bill (No 2) 2008 (Qld) Finalising the Referral of Power for Financial Matters arising Out of De Facto Relationship Breakdowns: Property Law and Another Act Amendment Bill 2008 (Qld) Strengthening Laws for Confiscating Proceeds of Crime - Criminal Proceeds Confiscation and Other Acts Amendment Bill 2008 (Qld) Local Government Bill 2008 (Qld) Telephone Tapping Powers in Queensland: The Telecommunications Interception Bill 2009 (Qld) (Note: First introduced Feb 2009. Reintroduced April 2009) Unit Pricing for Grocery Items Junk food Advertising on Childrens Television Feb 2009 Feb 2009 Feb 2009 Feb 2009 Apr 2009 Apr 2009 Apr 2009

Research Papers are available as PDF files: to members of the general public, the full text of Research Briefs is now available on the parliamentary web site, URL, www.parliament.qld.gov.au/publications www.parliament.qld.gov.au/Library/Query.exe Library Research Briefs A Subject Index to Research Publications is available at the following site: www.parliament.qld.gov.au/view/publications/publications.asp?area=research&LIndex=4&SubArea=s_aborigines&Bindex=0&Barea=search

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This Publication:
RBR 2009/07 Junk Food Advertising on Childrens Television (QPL, April, 2009)

Related Publications:
RBR 2004/10 Childhood Obesity (QPL, September 2004)