The advertising industry is on its guard against a Government plot to announce a statutory 9pm-watershed, blanket ban on all food and alcohol advertising later this year.
The Advertising Association (AA) says that the omission of any mention of public health issues in relation to communications and advertising in Gordon Brown’s first Queen’s Speech as Prime Minister on Tuesday has “raised suspicions”.
It is understood that the Government is getting ready to announce the restrictions in an attempt to meet its public health goals on issues such as obesity, smoking and alcohol misuse. Insiders claim that the Department of Health, led by Alan Johnson, is set to announce its proposals to ban all food advertising and alcohol advertising pre-9pm as early as December.
AA chief executive Peta Buscombe says: “We cannot sit back and do nothing. Just because the Queen’s Speech did not touch on the issue of advertising and marketing, or how best to tackle the issue of obesity or alcohol abuse, does not mean the Government is not thinking about it. I am not confident that there will be no further restrictions. We are planning to be proactive, this time, to try and encourage the Government to recognise that the industry can be part of the solution.”
Meanwhile, it has emerged that Dawn Primarolo, minister of state for public health, has pulled out of the Food Advertising Unit conference on November 15. The Department of Health has no representation at the conference, which is set to debate on the issue of protecting commercial freedoms when marketing food, while ensuring social responsibility.
It is understood that the department has been putting pressure on the ad industry to delay the conference until early next year, after the announcement of the draft bill.