The BBC has admitted that a radio documentary about food marketing
to children was biased after ad industry charges that it was an
The corporation acknowledged this week that the Radio 5 documentary -
The Fast Food Kids - broadcast on 13 June took an oversimplified
approach to its subject and lacked balance.
The 30-minute programme, presented by the food journalist, Joanna
Blythman, gave prominence to critics of food advertising to children,
including Sue Dibb of the Food Commission and the TV cook, Sophie
But Andrew Brown, the Advertising Association’s director-general, was
allowed less than a minute at the end to present the industry’s
Janina Bas, head of the AA’s children’s unit and its principal expert on
the subject, was interviewed but her contribution was dropped.
The AA complained to the BBC about the programme which, it claimed, had
treated its theme with ’pre-conceived simplicity’ and assumed from the
outset that food marketing was detrimental to children’s diets.
Brown said: ’The BBC is perfectly entitled to address the issue but this
was just a rant about advertising’s effect on children’s diets. There
was lots of simplistic thinking based on unproven assumptions and to
exclude Janina was unacceptable.’
In a letter to the AA, Fraser Steel, the BBC’s head of programme
complaints, said: ’I share your view that the programme’s approach was
He agreed the programme would have been more balanced had it taken into
account some of the points raised by Brown and Bas about the influence
advertising has on children.