NEWS: Govt urges ITC to rule on children

The Government has called for tighter controls on the use of children in advertising following the outcry over Bates Dorland’s ‘Harry and Molly’ campaign for Safeway.

The Government has called for tighter controls on the use of children in

advertising following the outcry over Bates Dorland’s ‘Harry and Molly’

campaign for Safeway.



Iain Sproat, the National Heritage Minister, has urged the Independent

Television Commission to consider toughening the section of its code of

practice which says that ads should not portray children in a sexually

provocative manner.



Sproat told the House of Commons on Tuesday that the campaign had

‘disgusted many people’ and he shared the ‘deep unease’ felt by many

MPs, 26 of whom have signed a motion warning that it could encourage

paedophilia. He would ‘firmly and specifically’ be drawing their views

to the ITC’s attention.



However, the minister rejected a call by Tony Banks, the Labour MP who

has led the attack on the Safeway campaign, for the use of children in

ads to be limited by legislation.



‘I do not believe the example cited by Mr Banks represents a trend in

advertising that merits a specific legislative measure,’ he said.



After the minister’s assurances, Banks did not force a vote on his

amendment to the Broadcasting Bill.



In his Commons speech, Banks launched into a strong attack on Dorlands

and Adam Leigh, the account director, who has suggested that the

protests against the ad reflected more on the accusers than the ad.

Banks railed: ‘It might be that Mr Leigh does not have much of a

conscience, but if he cannot accept that there could be dangers as a

result of the advertisement, he is as witless as he is exploitative of

children.’



As the Broadcasting Bill passed through the Commons, there was some good

news for the ad industry. The Government rejected demands for the

Broadcasting Standards Commission to be given the power to adjudicate on

complaints about ads and conduct research into the effects of

advertising.



Meanwhile, a proposal for the BSC to conduct research into the V-chip,

the device that allows viewers to screen out programmes, was defeated by

376 votes to 112.



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