Irish Broadcasting Authority proposes UK-style HFSS food advertising regulation


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30 March, Dublin: the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) launched a second consultation as part of the review of its Children's Commercial Communications Code. Following consideration of the 226 responses received to the first stage of the consultation, the BAI proposes to apply independent statutory regulation and that self and/or co-regulation are “not suitable approaches at this time.

The BAI proposes to adopt without amendment the UK Food Standards Agency's Nutrient Profiling Model to define high fat/sugar/salt (“HFSS”) food and beverage products.
In the new Draft Code, the BAI proposes to:
  • Ban HFSS food and beverage advertising in children's programmes (the definition of “children's programme” is a programme with an audience profile of over 50% under-18s)
  • Limit “HFSS” advertising so that no more than 25% of sold advertising time and only one in four advertisements for “HFSS” products will be permitted across the broadcasting day

It also proposes that children's commercial communications for “HFSS” food and drink shall not:
  • include celebrities or sports stars (U/18)
  • include programme characters (U/18)
  • include licensed characters e.g. characters and personalities from cinema releases (U/18)
  • contain health or nutrition claims (U/13)
  • include promotional offers (U/13)

The BAI intends to introduce a certification mechanism for all HFSS advertising, meaning that advertises wishing to advertised in children's programmes, must a submit a “nutrition profile certificate” to the broadcaster, certifying that the product is not HFSS. This approach also follows that in place in the UK.

Launching the public consultation, BAI's Chairman Bob Collins said: “The BAI received a very significant and divergent response from the first round of consultation on this issue. The rules in the BAI's Draft Codes, which have taken into consideration all of these responses, are targeted and proportionate.”

“Some respondents to our initial consultation wanted a complete ban on certain foods until 9pm in the evening; while others wanted exemptions to be applied to a range of foods that were considered to be of high economic importance to certain sectors of the economy.”

“The Draft Codes strike a balance between these divergent views. Most importantly, the Codes ensure that the BAI executes its legal responsibilities in terms of protecting the interests of children. In putting forward the Draft Codes, the BAI is not telling people what to eat, but is trying to support the creation of an environment in which more healthy food choices can be made”.

The deadline for responses to this second round of consultation is 31 May. Responses should be sent to: The revised code is expected to be adopted in September 2012 and to enter into force on 1 January 2013.

WFA has been assisting the Association of Advertisers in Ireland (AAI) in relation to the AAI response to the consultation and will continue to input with a view to attenuating the current recommendations.

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