The food, soft drinks and advertising industries have submitted a joint response to the UK media regulator Ofcom, in response to Ofcom’s consultation on TV advertising of food and drink to children.

The Better Balance (package 4) proposals were submitted by a coalition from the food, drink and advertising industries to Ofcom on 30 June. The document was signed by Andrew Brown, director general of the Advertising Association (AA), Malcolm Earnshaw, director general – ISBA, Melanie Leech, director general of the Food and Drink Federation (FDF), Jeremy Preston, director – Food Advertising Unit and Hamish Pringle, director general of the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA).
In common with the Government’s own emphasis, the industry proposals focus on children under ten and advertisements screened during their programme times.

Included in the submission is a proposal that no more cartoon characters, pop celebrities, movie characters or collectible gifts should be used in advertisements directly targeted at children.  In addition, there should be no more advertising of any branded foods during children’s programming on terrestrial TV. Advertising of food and drink would be limited to 30 seconds per hour all day on dedicated children’s channels, including GMTV Kids on Saturday and Sunday mornings.
“This package represents a very significant set of proposals from the overwhelming majority of industry,” said Andrew Brown, director general of the Advertising Association. “We are committed to playing our part in tackling childhood obesity and we accept the need for new restrictions on food advertising to children.  Ofcom’s research showed that advertising has only a 2% influence on a child’s food preferences and our package therefore delivers a proportionate, balanced response which will be good news for parents.”  
The advertising industry is committed to new code revisions for advertising in the press, on posters and the internet, while the Food and Drink Federation (FDF) has just launched a major new initiative to engage directly with families about food. 
“FDF is keen to work more closely with families on all issues relating to food and health,” said FDF director general Melanie Leech. “That’s why we are setting up a new family panel that can represent parents and children and work with and advise us on a regular basis.”