Ofcom urged to pass junk food enquiry to consultant

Media regulator Ofcom has been urged to hand over its consultation on the future of food and drink advertising to children to an independent adviser.

Broadcast lobby group Public Voice believes the watchdog will otherwise become embroiled in a bitter battle between campaigners proposing stringent rules and broadcasters safeguarding both commercial and public service interests.

The voluntary sector coalition has asked Ofcom to appoint an experienced independent consultant to analyse and evaluate consultation responses and to publish its report. By doing so, Ofcom would be acting “transparently”, it says.

Co-ordinator Don Redding says: “Whatever Ofcom decides, it will be in a bind because whatever conclusion it reaches at the end of the consultation could lead to calls that evidence has potentially been skewed in one direction or another.”

He adds: “Independent analysis does not mean there would be a formal conclusion, but it means the process would be transparent.”

Redding further points to the Government, which appointed independent consultants ahead of publishing its Green Paper on the future of the BBC last year.

The consultation period had to be extended until Friday following a raft of interest in Ofcom’s proposals. Last week industry bodies handed the regulator an alternative to the three choices it set forth at the beginning of the process, and figureheads including C4 chief executive Andy Duncan wrote to Secretary of State for Culture, Media & Sport Tessa Jowell outlining their positions.

The Incorporated Society of British Advertisers this week also outlined its views, after bringing together 25 senior representatives through a food and drink working group. It recommends the complete withdrawal of all food and drink advertising on main general entertainment channels during children’s programming and placing a limit of 30 to 60 seconds of food and drink advertising per hour on dedicated children’s channels.

Health campaigners including the British Medial Association and Sustain support a ban on food and drink advertising during all programming before the 9pm watershed, a position Ofcom is willing to consider but believes is “disproportionate”.

Latest from Marketing Week


Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and opinion that will help you do your job better.

Register and receive the best content from the only UK title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work. The more we know about our visitors, the better and more relevant content we can provide for them. And, yes, knowing our audience better helps us find commercial partners too. Don't worry, we won't share your information with other parties, unless you give us permission to do so.

Register now


Our award winning editorial team (PPA Digital Brand of the Year) ask the big questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.


From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we are your guide.


Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3703 or email customerservices@marketingweek.com

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here