Michael Grade has roundly condemned government restrictions on advertising as "nonsense", and is rallying broadcasters and advertisers to fight off further restrictions together.
The ITV executive chairman says: "We have a common cause in resisting this nanny state culture. The restrictions are not going to stop the way that people live and behave. It is a complete denial of what TV is about, which is reflecting real life. It is nonsense. Either ban the products or just let us get on with our lives."
He says advertising is being made a scapegoat for society’s problems and denies television’s role in reflecting “real life”.
Grade was speaking at Thinkbox Experience, a conference organised by the commercial television marketing body to show advertisers and agencies the future of television. "There is a real common cause between us on the panel and advertisers in trying to wean Government off the idea that restrictions on advertising are the answer to all society’s problems. It is too easy, too simplistic."
The call, which drew applause from the audience, came during one of Grade’s first public speeches since joining the commercial broadcaster from the BBC at the start of this year.
It also comes on the heels of Ofcom’s announcement last week that food brands high in fat, salt and sugar would be unable to advertise on television during children’s programming or shows that were watched by a high proportion of under 16-year-olds.
The decision rubber-stamped a policy outlined before Christmas. Previously the media regulator had favoured restrictions aimed at younger children aged under 10 years old.
Fellow Thinkbox panelist Jane Lighting, Five chief executive, adds: "We have just seen kids and alcohol advertising restricted. What comes after that? We genuinely need lighter touch regulation."