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Tv Food Advertisements

Volume 405: debated on Wednesday 21 May 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if she will make a statement on her policy on the (a) prohibition and (b) regulation of televised food advertisement aimed at children. [113889]

The Government's policy is that television advertising should be undertaken responsibly and its regulation should be directed at ensuring the prevention of harm to vulnerable groups including children. To this end, television is regulated by the Independent Television Commission (ITC), which establishes codes covering all television advertising and sponsorship. Broadcasters must comply with these codes and sanctions are available for non-compliance. In relation to food advertising, the codes include provisions to prevent harm notably from advertisements which mislead, make unsubstantiated health claims, disparage good dietary practice or encourage excessive consumption. The ITC keeps the effectiveness of the codes under review and they can be amended, after appropriate consultation, if they are found to be inadequate in preventing harm. The Communications Bill provides for OFCOM to take on the responsibility for ensuring that standards are maintained. The Government believe that these arrangements provide for the effective regulation of television advertising and that at present there is no case for further Government action, such as entirely prohibiting the advertising of food during children's programming.