Magazine article Marketing

Raymond Snoddy on Media: Brussels Interference Will Harm TV

Magazine article Marketing

Raymond Snoddy on Media: Brussels Interference Will Harm TV

Article excerpt

Observing regulators at work can be a tedious business. Consultations are spread over many months. There are revisions and further consultations before final deadlines. Then everything goes quiet.

It is as if they want to wear everyone down so that any opposition falls away.

Yet, ignore these processes at your peril.

The crucial nature of the regulatory, or legislative, game was highlighted last week when the row over food and drinks ads aimed at children escalated, and the UK roundly condemned the Television Without Frontiers directive.

A ban on these executions could remove an entire category of ads at a time when TV advertising is under unprecedented pressure and, with it, the programme budgets of commercial channels.

Numbers vary, but stripping food and drink ads from pre-watershed schedules could cost broadcasters u300m a year.

In a letter to culture secretary Tessa Jowell, broadcasters argue that in peak time only one in 20 of the audience is under 10 years old - excluding children's channels.

There is also the practical problem that advertising forced out of the pre-watershed hours would be competing for limited slots after 9pm. The result would inevitably be advertising inflation; an unintended, but serious, consequence.

Anything that encourages children to eat healthily and avoid obesity is obviously a good thing. But what if the cost is severe damage to programme budgets and an even more detrimental effect on dedicated children's channels?

And those lobbying against ads targeting children are unlikely to stop at food and drinks once they have the taste of success.Luckily, the signs are that both the culture secretary and Ofcom are opposed to the more extreme options.

The obvious area for compromise involves strict controls on the ads surrounding programmes made specifically for young children. As for the rest of the schedule, the responsibility should lie with parents.

The activities of those at work on updating the Television Without Frontiers directive make the food advertising debate sound almost sane.

The latest wheeze to come from Brussels is that ad breaks in broadcast films, news and children's programming should be limited to one every 35 minutes - a clever move when most programmes last 30 minutes. …

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