Between the Lines: Wooing voters with ad ban

It's hardly surprising that as the election looms, the Government is tightening its proposals on some emotive public issues.

Hardly surprising, too, that advertising is in the firing line; strong hints are emerging that the Government is pushing harder for a ban on junk-food advertising to children. Up to this point, all the signs had been that the ad industry would have 18 months' grace to launch some self-regulatory measures. Meanwhile, the plan was for Ofcom to advise on the most practical and workable way forward. Now the Government appears to have made up its mind that it would like Ofcom to recommend a ban (page 1).

As children's health has been pushed up the political agenda, Tony Blair and his government seem to have found themselves making stronger and stronger pre-election pledges. So this week's emphatic threat to junk-food ads seems like just another example of pre-election politicking, designed to grab headlines and votes but not necessarily to be taken seriously as policy. It seems more like a message designed for the ears of the mass of voters, than for the ad industry and its regulators. Don't panic.