Consumer lobby group Which? has slammed Ofcom’s proposals to restrict or ban ads for unhealthy food during children’s television as a “total sham”.
The group criticised the proposals as it launched research that shows children watch more TV in the evening. It says that the Ofcom proposals, which were launched in March, would allow food companies to continue targeting children.
Ofcom is holding a consultation on three proposals for restricting food advertising to children. The options include restricting the volume of ads and times shown, banning food advertising during children’s TV, stopping advertising to the under-fives and banning ads for products high in salt, fat and sugar. Ofcom also asked for a fourth proposal to be put forward by interested parties.
Which? says it took viewing figures from ITV1 for two weeks and found more children aged nine and under watch TV in the evening than watch specific children’s programmes. It found that the most popular programmes are Coronation Street and Emmerdale.
Which? chief policy adviser Sue Davies says: “They have set out three options – all of which fail to tackle the advertising of unhealthy food during the programmes that most young children are watching, and none of which consider that older children deserve protection too.”
An Ofcom spokesman says that research published two years ago “made it clear” that the majority of child viewing is in the early peak.
He adds: “We think that the Which? analysis of Ofcom’s proposals is flawed. The question being debated is what measures are now proportionate and what measures are necessary.”