Kids' TV junk food ad ban may lead to station closures

LONDON - The proposed ban on junk food ads before the watershed could lead to the collapse of some television broadcasters, the advertising industry has warned.

The pre-watershed ban could be one of the proposals outlined in a forthcoming White Paper looking at ways of tackling the obesity crisis. Other measures that could be introduced including a "traffic light" system of health ratings, which would see fatty foods given a red light and healthy foods given a green light.

But it is the proposal of a total ban that is concerning media owners and advertisers, who are concerned about how much it will eat in to the £577m spent advertising food on television every year.

The proposal has been made despite findings published by media regulator Ofcom earlier this year, which said a total ban would be ineffective and disproportionate.

Now those in the advertising industry have warned that it could lead to broadcasters, especially children's channels, closing down.

Claudia Camozzi, public affairs manager at the Food Advertising Unit of the Advertising Association, has said that a total ban on advertising food could see childrens' broadcasters reconsider whether it was worth staying in the UK.

"It's very speculative, but a pretty logical conclusion that if you get rid of that money there will be less in the coffers," Camozzi said.

However, she said the impact on broadcasters would depend on the extent of the ban.

The Food Standards Agency is currently working on profiling different foods to draw up its system of working out what is deemed healthy and unhealthy. A junk food ban could be difficult to manage depending on how foods are categorised.

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