Pressure mounts for pre-9pm ad ban

Lobby groups have stepped up calls for a pre-9pm watershed for “junk” food and alcohol advertising. It follows concerns that the Government’s failure to mention the issues in the Queen’s Speech last week indicated a blanket ban could be introduced by December (MW last week).

Which?, the consumer lobby group, has renewed its calls for a 9pm ban on “junk” food after a new report which claims that a majority of TV programmes watched by kids are not covered by existing regulations.

The restrictions on food advertising, introduced in April, banned adverts for foods high in fat, salt or sugar (HFSS) from being shown around programmes for children. This has banned ads from shows such as The Simpsons, which is shown on Channel 4 at 6pm, but not during The X Factor, ITV’s peak time Saturday night show.

New research from Which? looked at viewing figures across ITV1, Channel 4 and five for two weeks in September to see which shows children under 10 years old are watching in the largest numbers.

The top 20 shows for children aged under 10 years old included Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway and Coronation Street and ads for a variety of snack brands, including Mars Planets and Kinder Bueno, were shown during these programmes.

It adds that research into the programmes most watched by children under 16 years old shows that plans to extend restrictions in January will make a limited difference.

Meanwhile, a coalition of medical experts, including Alcohol Concern, will call for a ban on alcohol advertising and a 10% rise in tax this week.

The Alcohol Health Alliance will also call for increased regulation for the industry, compulsory warnings about the effects of drinking and improved prevention and treatment programmes.

The Advertising Association chief executive Pets Buscombe said last week that the omission of any mention of public health issues in Gordon Brown’s first Queen’s Speech should “raised suspicions”.

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