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    Tuesday, 20 November 2007

    New targets and old: more on the advertising to kids debate

    Consumer group Which? has renewed its critique of the current approach to restricting junk food advertising to kids (1,2). It has conducted further research to demonstrate that the existing rules do not prevent children from seeing a large number of adverts for foods high in fat salt and sugar. This latest round of comment seems very much an exercise in keeping the issue in the public imagination: we been here before.

    Meanwhile, in a new development - again based on a research report - alcohol advertising has returned to the agenda as a potential next target for restriction. This is notwithstanding a relatively recent - ie 2005 - change in the rules governing alcohol advertising. The research, which was the fruit of a joint Ofcom and Advertising Standards Authority effort, found that drink suppliers have shifted advertising spend away from tv since 2005 (-26.2%), that children and young adults are being exposed to fewer alcohol advertisements on tv in consequence, that there has been a significant decline in the proportion of young people saying that they feel alcohol adverts are aimed at them, but that many young people do feel advertisements make drinks look appealing and would encourage people to drink. It has been reported that Gordon Brown is to meet with the head of the industry lobbyist the Portman Group to discuss indutry attitudes.

    By way of a coda, in the Sunday Telegraph Juliette Garside reflected industry perspectives and explained that restrictions on advertising flowing from concerns re children's welfare could have disastrous consequences for advertising income.

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