GLOBAL BRIEF: Call for ad-free children’s TV - Sweden wants an EU-wide ban on ads aimed only at children. By Claire Cozens

The news that 77 per cent of British punters believe that advertisers should not be allowed to target children (Campaign, 18 September) comes as proof, if any were needed, that opposition to children’s advertising is not the preserve of the politically correct.

The news that 77 per cent of British punters believe that

advertisers should not be allowed to target children (Campaign, 18

September) comes as proof, if any were needed, that opposition to

children’s advertising is not the preserve of the politically

correct.



Research suggests that children under 12 do not fully comprehend the

effect of advertising and cannot assess products advertised. Further,

children under six often cannot distinguish between programmes and

adverts.



The Swedish government is lobbying for advertising restrictions on

children under 12 to be extended across the European Union. Children in

Sweden are already protected by a two-pronged ban whereby all

advertising deemed to be aimed at children under 12 is prohibited and

there is a ban on all adverts on terrestrial channels immediately

before, during or after children’s programming. McDonald’s, the world’s

biggest advertiser to children, presents itself as a family restaurant

in Sweden, while other products are advertised on the satellite channel,

TV3, which broadcasts out of London.



The Swedes want the ban imposed across Europe partly to prevent

advertisers dodging their laws in this way, but also because they

believe the restrictions would be popular with parents elsewhere. The

European Commission is considering the Swedish government’s arguments

but industry observers believe a change in European law is highly

unlikely.



’It is completely unrealistic to assume that commercial broadcasters

will be prepared to generate programmes for an audience they cannot

access through advertising,’ says Andrew Brown, director-general of the

Advertising Association, who adds that the regulations in the UK

governing advertising aimed at children are already very strict.



In the next few weeks, the European Court rules on the case of De

Agostini, the Italian publisher which appealed against a fine imposed on

its Swedish office following the appearance of its ads on TV3. The court

is expected to rule against Sweden and further reduce its hopes for an

EU-wide ban.



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