As you may know, TV regulator Ofcom recently published their recommendations on protecting children from junk food advertisements. The Children’s Food Campaign is disappointed with the recommendations as a whole. And we need your help to push for something stronger.
Ofcom has ignored health, education and children’s organisations who all support a 9pm watershed for junk food adverts. Instead, they have recommended that junk food advertising only be restricted during children’s television hours and a few “youth-orientated programmes”. Well over half of the television children watch falls outside these times. And so Ofcom’s recommendations will do very little to protect children from junk food advertising. For example, Coronation Street is the programme most watched by children, but Ofcom’s recommendations will not affect junk food advertising during it.
However, it is not all doom and gloom. We are pleased that Ofcom has decided to extend the restrictions to include all children under 16, rather than under 9, in the original consultation. We are also delighted (and the food industry furious) that Ofcom has agreed to a sensible definition of what counts as junk food.
Having made good progress, it is now essential that we persuade the Government to step in and agree stronger restrictions on junk food advertising. Gordon Brown recently acknowledged that he wanted to do something “about the advertising of junk food during programmes that children watch before the watershed hour of nine", which we believe shows Government is listening to us. But they will only act if you ask them to.
How you can help?
We need to show the Government that there continues to be strong support for a 9pm watershed for junk food adverts, so your support is crucial.
Go to the ‘How you can help’ page of the new Children’s Food Campaign website: http://www.sustainweb.org/page.php?id=110 to find out how you can help.
In particular we need you to write to your MP asking them to support our campaign and sign Early Day Motion 404 in support of a 9pm watershed for junk food TV adverts.
A review of Ofcom’s new rules has already been scheduled for next year. By then I am sure a 9pm watershed will be inevitable thanks to your help.
Changing the campaign's name
For the last few months the Children’s Food Bill campaign has been discussing the big question: where next?
The Children’s Food Bill itself has been hugely successful in several areas. Three of the Bill’s five clauses are already law, some progress is being made on a fourth (cooking in the school curriculum). In only the one of the Bill’s demands (restricting the marketing of junk food) has real progress yet to be made.
Therefore we have decided to focus on four important areas:
- Protecting children from junk food marketing (including TV adverts)
- Ensuring food skills are a compulsory part of the school curriculum for all pupils.
- Making the case for clear traffic-light food labelling, which everyone – including children – can understand.
- Monitoring the implementation of the new school food regime and campaigning for more funding for food in school
Given there will no longer be a Children’s Food Bill we thought we should change our name to the Children’s Food Campaign.
Launch our new website
Along with the new name, the Children’s Food campaign has a new website. Go to http://www.childrensfoodcampaign.org.uk/ to see more.
The new website gives more details about what the campaign is calling for, gives you the latest news about what we are doing and helps you to support the campaign.
If you have any thoughts about other things you would like to see on the website please email me at email@example.com.
Thank you for supporting the Children’s Food Bill campaign. Together we are winning the battle to improve children’s food. This email is to update you on our campaign’s progress over the last month and to ask for your help.
Junk food TV advertising aimed at children
Following our victory in the campaign to improve food in schools, the Children’s Food Bill campaign is continuing to work hard to protect our children from junk food adverts.
Previous campaign updates have mentioned that communications regulator Ofcom has been consulting on options to restrict food adverts on TV. All of the options that Ofcom has recommended are too weak to help solve the problem of childhood obesity. You can see the Children’s Food Bill’s response to Ofcom here: http://www.ofcom.org.uk/consult/condocs/foodads/responses/ad/foodbill.pdf and all of the other responses here: http://www.ofcom.org.uk/consult/condocs/foodads/
The Children’s Food Bill campaign has led calls to protect children form junk food TV adverts before 9pm. This campaign has been boosted by support from a number of Government agencies, such as the Children’s Commissioners for all four countries in the UK, the School Food Trust and the Food Standards Agency.
The campaign was further boosted by 114 MPs signing a motion to criticise Ofcom’s weak proposals. The full list of the MPs who signed is here: http://edmi.parliament.uk/EDMi/EDMDetails.aspx?EDMID=30821&SESSION=875 .
If your MP did not sign you can write to them to ask them why not at http://www.writetothem.com/.
You can find out who your MP is here: http://www.upmystreet.com/commons/l/.
Tony Blair on junk food advertising
Prime Minister Tony Blair made a high-profile speech on public health last week, including a section on junk food advertising. You can read the full text of the speech here: http://www.number10.gov.uk/output/Page9700.asp.
Mr Blair’s most important quote is: “We are working on a code with the food industry on limiting the advertising of junk food to children. But if by 2007, the voluntary code hasn't worked, we will make it mandatory.”
Last year, the Children’s Food Bill published the document: “Why we need a new law, not voluntary approaches.” It can be found on our website at http://www.childrensfoodbill.org.uk/. This document discusses the inherent weaknesses of voluntary approaches and self regulation, and draws on examples from tobacco advertising, alcohol promotion, the marketing of breastmilk substitutes, the use of pesticides and antibiotics in farming, and measures to control the powers of supermarkets.
The reasons outlined in the report for the failure of voluntary approaches were:
- Voluntary codes are weak and tend to contain vague phrases rather than firm targets.
- There are commercial incentives not to apply meaningful sanctions for non-compliance.
- Independent monitoring and enforcement is rare.
The Government has been relying on the food industry taking voluntary action for too long. The Ofcom consultation shows that they are not willing to take the urgent action needed to tackle the time-bomb of childhood obesity. It is high time the Government now introduced a new law to protect children from junk food marketing.
You can contact your MP to let them know your views at http://www.writetothem.com/.
Labour Party consultation on public health
The Children’s Food Bill campaign is non-party political so we seek to influence the policies of every mainstream political party.
The Labour Party is running a consultation on its website about public health issues. The results will go towards making the party’s policy. You can take part here: http://www.labour.org.uk/blog/index.php?id=210.
You may wish to say that relying on companies taking voluntary action is not enough and call for a ban on junk food TV advertising before 9pm, call for the introduction of the easy-to-understand traffic light labelling for all food and for more money being spent on food in schools.
The Children’s Food Bill campaign has supporters in all political parties, and many who do not support any particular party. If you know of other similar opportunities to influence the policy of political parties at a local and regional levels please do let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here are five ways you can help the campaign today:
1) Email your MP to let them know your views on junk food advertising aimed at children: http://www.writetothem.com/.
2) Let us know about opportunities to lobby political parties at a local and regional level at email@example.com.
3) Tell the Labour Party what you think about Government policy on public health at: http://www.labour.org.uk/blog/index.php?id=210.
4) Ask your friends to sign our petition calling for children to be protected from junk food advertising before 9pm at http://www.childrensfoodbill.org.uk/ .
5) Donate to the Children’s Food Bill campaign www.sustainweb.org/ We rely on small donations and every penny you can spare will make a difference.