Banning junk food ads will affect quality of kids' TV

LONDON - Consumer group Voice of the Listener & Viewer has said tighter restrictions should be placed on junk food ads, but not to the detriment of quality children's television.

The call comes following the recent Ofcom consultation on the television advertising of food and drink to children.

Last month, the IPA attacked the Food Standards Agency's call for ban on junk-food ads before 9pm, calling it "unjustified". Earlier this month, a coalition of food, soft drink and ad industry bodies submitted compromise proposals to Ofcom to avoid a total ban on junk food ads before 9pm.

The VLV is concerned that if ITV and Five do not have time to adjust to a ban and need to seek alternative advertisers to fund their programming, children's television on mainstream commercial channels will be at risk.

VLV says banning certain television ads will not solve the problem of child obesity, saying this need to be "a concerted effort by government, parents, teachers and manufacturers to promote healthier alternative products and lifestyles".

The group underlines the importance for children to be able to view a wide range of programming, and not allow them to be reduced to watching satellite children's channels, where few programmes are made in the UK.

The VLV said: "Britain's rich cultural heritage could quickly be eroded and future generations at risk of having access only to a 'Disneyfied' view of the world, their culture and history."

More than 20 channels target young UK viewers, but only the terrestrial channels ITV, Five, S4C and the BBC commission original content, according to the VLV.

Jocelyn Hay, VLV founder and chairwoman, said: "Just as young British viewers need protection from harmful advertising, they also need protection from over-exposure to an unrelieved diet of imported animation and soaps.

"Our children have the right to enjoy access to a diverse range of programming, which puts their needs and interests first, which is made in their own cultural idiom, reflects their own language, culture, environment and values, and which helps them to develop into informed and active young citizens of the UK."

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