Letter from Stephen Carter to Tessa Jowell MP
Relating to food and drink advertising to children on television, 17 December 2003
Rt Hon Tessa Jowell MP
Secretary of State
2-4 Cockspur Street
17 December 2003
Thank you for your letter to David Currie about the rules relating to food and drink advertising to children on television.
As you know, we are committed to bringing the best evidence to bear upon the way we regulate the industry. We share your view that child obesity is an important and urgent social issue, and we are therefore giving significant priority to a major project which will inform the best approach to take to any changes to the broadcast advertising codes. We aim to complete the project, including consulting on, and implementing any rule changes, during the first half of 2004.
Specifically, we will:
- conduct major new research into the impact of food promotion to children, talking not only to children but also to parents, teachers and other professionals. We will use a variety of research techniques as appropriate, and will also examine potential rule changes and their likely positive and negative impacts;
- in parallel with this assessment, examine and define the context of both the FSA's report and of the factors that have led to the issue being on the public agenda. This will include producing an overview of the market for food promotion to children, evaluating television's role in the total media landscape, and charting recent changes in family lifestyles;
- and conduct our own independent assessment of the FSA's "Review of Research into the Effects of Food Promotion to Children", as well as the responses that have been made to it by the advertising industry and others. We expect to engage a leading academic with significant experience of research among young people for this assessment.
At the same time, we will be developing our overall strategy and priorities our Media Literacy responsibilities: we will consider how best the role of advertising to children and their understanding of it can be reflected in our early work programme.
Results from all these exercises will be drawn together to help Ofcom decide what specific action may be needed to address your concerns, and those of the FSA, in relation to broadcast advertising.
Naturally, we will keep you and your Department informed of progress, and will be happy to answer questions you may have on any aspect of this work.
Stephen A. Carter
Ofcom is the communications regulator. We regulate the TV and radio sectors, fixed line telecoms and mobiles, plus the airwaves over which wireless devices operate.
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