This book examines research concerned with advertising to children on television. Its purpose is to establish the status of our knowledge about how children respond to advertising on television, how much the research evidence can be taken at face value, and the degree to which research can usefully inform regulation of advertising aimed at young viewers. It comes at a time when concern is growing about the effectiveness of television advertising regulation in light of technological developments in media. Such developments include the rapid growth of television channels that are available via a number of platforms—terrestrial, satellite, and cable—and that are being further facilitated through the transition of broadcasting from analogue to digital transmission.
Digitalization means not only more television channels for viewers to choose from but also greater scope for interactivity. This, in turn, may mean more power to consumers to select what to watch, when to watch, and how to watch. Concerns about increased volumes of advertising on burgeoning television channels and the use of more subtle forms of advertising that accompany greater commercialization of the television system (e.g., program sponsorship, product placement, program-related merchandising) have led to calls for tighter regulations governing televised advertising. This development is regarded as being especially necessary where children are concerned because their psychological immaturity as viewers and consumers leaves them more vulnerable to advertising influences.
Any move toward tightening restrictions upon advertising will create a tension with freedom of speech rights in democratic societies. To overrule