Ofcom dithers over curbs on junk food adverts

The television regulator Ofcom has infuriated health campaigners by failing to announce a ban on advertising junk food to children.

It is two years since the Culture Secretary, Tessa Jowell, asked Ofcom to develop "targeted" plans to curb the adverts, and campaigners were expecting to be told details of the action it intended to take. But instead of coming up with a concrete plan, Ofcom announced yesterday a new round of consultation on four proposals, all of which fell short of campaigners' calls for a ban on junk food adverts before the 9pm watershed, when children are no longer supposed to be watching television.

The 10-week consultation will further delay the start of a ban that Ofcom had been expected to announce last summer, at a time when doctors are warning of growing childhood obesity.

Ed Mayo, chief executive of the National Consumer Council, said: "None of these proposals goes anywhere near what's needed to redress the imbalance in TV advertising of unhealthy food to children - and so help tackle childhood obesity. Ofcom should have been bolder."

Ofcom proposed four methods of controlling junk food adverts, combined with a stricter code from the Committee on Advertising Practice that would ban celebrities and famous cartoon characters from appearing in food and drink commercials targeted at children under 10.

Adverts for Walkers crisps starring the former England footballer Gary Lineker could fall foul of the rules on celebrities. But Kellogg's promotions for sugary cereals such as Frosties featuring Tony the Tiger would escape the rule on cartoon heroes because they are the brands' own characters.

Ofcom's first proposal would ban junk food advertising and sponsorship from all shows specifically made for children, or those of "particular appeal" to children aged nine and under, such as The Simpsons, soaps and reality television shows. The second proposal would ban all food and drink commercials and sponsorship from those shows.

The third would limit the volume of food and drink adverts when children are most likely to be watching, at breakfast time and between 3pm and 8pm on weekdays and from 6am to 8pm at weekends.

The fourth proposal would be a combination of the above "which commands industry support". Any of the first three proposals would cut the amount of junk food commercials seen by children by half, according to Ofcom.

The watchdog said it was proving hard to find support among interest groups it had consulted, which included food manufacturers and advertisers. It explained: "In discussions with a broad range of organisations, it has become clear that there is currently no consensus on the most appropriate course of action beyond a general agreement that some form of action is appropriate and necessary."

Sue Davies, the chief policy adviser at Which?, formerly the Consumers' Association, said: "After a year of consideration, Ofcom has failed to seize the opportunity to tackle childhood obesity and related health problems. Ofcom has merely acted to pacify industry interests in the short term."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
Lucerne’s Hotel Château Gütsch, one of the lots in our Homeless Veterans appeal charity auction
charity appeal
Arts and Entertainment
Tony Hughes (James Nesbitt) after his son Olly disappeared on a family holiday in France
tv
News
people

Jo from Northern Ireland was less than impressed by Russell Brand's attempt to stage a publicity stunt

Sport
Nabil Bentaleb (centre) celebrates putting Tottenham ahead
footballTottenham 4 Newcastle 0: Spurs fans dreaming of Wembley final after dominant win
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
The Apprentice candidates Roisin Hogan, Solomon Akhtar, Mark Wright, Bianca Miller, Daniel Lassman
tvReview: But which contestants got the boot?
Life and Style
A woman walks by a pandal art installation entitled 'Mars Mission' with the figure of an astronaut during the Durga Puja festival in Calcutta, India
techHow we’ll investigate the existence of, and maybe move in with, our alien neighbours
Arts and Entertainment
Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels ride again in Dumb and Dumber To
filmReview: Dumb And Dumber To was a really stupid idea
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Ian McKellen tempts the Cookie Monster
tvSir Ian McKellen joins the Cookie Monster for a lesson on temptation
News
i100
Travel
Tourists bask in the sun beneath the skyscrapers of Dubai
travelBritish embassy uses social media campaign to issue travel advice for festive holiday-makers in UAE
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established media firm based in Surrey is ...

Sphere Digital Recruitment: Display Account Manager

£25,000 to £35,000: Sphere Digital Recruitment: The Company Our client are th...

Sphere Digital Recruitment: Sales Director

£80 – 120K : Sphere Digital Recruitment: Sales Director – Ad tech - £80 – 120K...

Sphere Digital Recruitment: Senior Analyst – Global Sports Gaming Brand

40,000- 50,000: Sphere Digital Recruitment: Senior Analyst – Global Sports Gam...

Day In a Page

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
10 best high-end laptops

10 best high-end laptops

From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum
France's Front National and the fear of a ‘gay lobby’ around Marine Le Pen

Front National fear of ‘gay lobby’

Marine Le Pen appoints Sébastien Chenu as cultural adviser