Govt to tighten ad curbs

Brown threatens wide-ranging review of TV and online advertising to children.

The Government will today (Thursday) announce a wide-ranging review to protect children from "unsuitable" advertising on TV and online.

Gordon Brown has ordered the review into whether controls are needed to prevent children being damaged or exploited by, for example, exposure to ads for computer games showing violence or sexual imagery.

The move could force the ad industry to introduce rules on internet ads, following criticism that they are not properly regulated. Brown is also concerned about advertising to children on television before the 9pm watershed.

The prime minister said: "The sources of information for children from a very young age now are the internet, TV, commercial advertising. The review will aim to make sure our children, while given every opportunity to benefit from technology and new media, are protected against some of the malign influences trying to operate through that media."

Brown has been influenced by a drive against the "commercialisation of childhood" led by the pressure group Compass. It wants a ban on ads to children under seven in media, a ban on product placement in all children's TV programmes, a 9pm watershed for junk-food ads and a statutory code for ads aimed at seven- to 16-year-olds. Brown is unlikely to back all of the proposals, but his intervention will pressurise the industry to beef up its code of practice.