23/02/2007

OFCOM accused of betraying duty to children

A leading medical charity has slated the new regulations on advertising of junk food to children.

Northern Ireland Chest, Heart & Stroke (NICHS) said the new rules from OFCOM were betraying sound principles with disappointingly weak practice.

Andrew Dougal, Chief Executive of NICHS said: “After OFCOM finally accepted the need to protect children, it refuses to adopt the 9.00pm watershed which is the most effective route to achieve that protection.

“Their proposals would mean a reduction of only 41% in children’s exposure to junk food advertising while the 9.00pm watershed would achieve more than 80% protection. Children will be at particular risk during the early evening soaps.”

He continued: “Many of the personnel working in OFCOM are ex-broadcasting industry or former marketing or advertising executives. Staff in OFCOM have always had an affinity with the advertising industry and a cosy relationship with the broadcasting companies.”

Mr Dougal also stated the government must remind OFCOM that it has a legal duty to protect the interested of the public as well as the consumer.

He concluded: “Children with a diet high in fat, sugar and salt will be at great risk of the early onset of diabetes, heart and stroke.”

(JM/SP)

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