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Media Images (Women)

Volume 506: debated on Monday 1 March 2010

9. What recent discussions he has had with media representatives on the portrayal of women in (a) publications and (b) broadcasts. (318860)

We have regular discussions with the independent regulators—Ofcom and the Advertising Standards Authority—and keep these matters under constant review.

I was encouraged by the positive response from the Leader of the House when I raised a similar issue on Thursday. Has the Minister been able to take cognisance of the report from the Royal College of Psychiatrists, which suggested joint working between advertisers, media, Government and physicians to deal with this very important issue?

I noted the hon. Gentleman’s comments to the Leader of the House last week. This is a very important issue and it is very difficult to find specific influences on outcomes for children and their behaviour. We have also had the report from Linda Papadopoulos last Thursday, which we are studying to see whether there are implications to which we need to have regard and whether we need to take further action.

Is the Minister aware of the quite widespread concern among women, particularly mothers, about the proliferation of lads mags? The concern is not that they exist, but that if one goes into a newsagents with one’s child to buy some sweets, one finds them at the child’s eye level, often displayed in prime position. What can be done to toughen the regulatory regime to ensure that those magazines are put on the top shelf where they deserve to be?

I am, indeed, aware of those concerns, and I know that the vast majority of lads mags are on the top shelves. The last figures I saw suggested that 58 per cent. were put on the top shelf. Until now, this has been a matter for self-regulation, but we keep it under constant review; it is an issue on which all Members of the House share concerns.