The Children’s Media Foundation (CMF)

Public Service Content Funding and Advertising Bans

Just when things started looking up…  

CMF lobbyist, Jayne Kirkham reports from Westminster on a new initiative with potentially damaging consequences.

There has been some guarded optimism with the DDCMS’ proposed contestable fund for kids’ content due to roll out in 2019.  But just as we start to maybe think about relaxing a little, something appears in our peripheral vision - a sideswipe that could knock everything out of balance and do damage.

I’m talking about the Department of Health’s latest moves to address the Obesity Issue and plans to ban all advertising on foods with high fat, sugar, and salt content (HFSS) before 9pm on commercial broadcasters. If this goes ahead, which ITV fears may happen, this will have a seriously detrimental effect on public service content and will surely add weight to the commercial PSB’s arguments that they can’t take on any more programming commitments such as children’s content.   This could have a big influence on Ofcom’s decisions and outcome of its Kids' Review.

This is frustrating as there is no evidence that the ban on HFSS advertising around content watched by kids  has had any impact on the obesity problem since it was introduced in 2006.  But it’s politically expedient and DDCMS may well support the move.

There is a hearing on May 22nd by the Health Select Committeewith DDCMS minister Margot James MP and Department of Health ministers.  Watch this space…

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