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
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
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
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.