The advertising industry has urged Prime Minister Boris Johnson to rethink “onerous” restrictions on ads for unhealthy food amid concerns over the economic impact.
In a letter to Johnson, the Advertising Association (AA) said that while it supported the government’s ambition to reduce childhood obesity by 2050, plans to crack down on adverts would not achieve that objective.
Under the proposals, advertisers will face a 9pm watershed when promoting products high in fat, salt or sugar (HFSS) on TV and online.
But the AA warned the move would have “severe impacts” on media revenue and the wider supply chain.
In addition, the industry body has argued that an ad ban would do little to address the fundamental causes of childhood obesity.
It cited government analysis showing the proposed restrictions would only remove around 1.7 calories per day from children’s diets.
“We ask you to halt these plans and to look instead at more efficient ways to achieve a healthier Britain, through measures appropriately targeted on the problem,” wrote AA chief executive Stephen Woodford.
Media research firm Enders Analysis has branded the TV ban an “irrelevant symbolic gesture”, warning of its impact on broadcasters.
The Department for Digital, Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) is considering responses to its consultation on the proposed ad ban.
In a separate letter to newly-appointed DCMS secretary Nicky Morgan, the AA said it supported the government’s ambition to improve online safety.
But it warned that ongoing regulatory reviews into the digital and online advertising markets should not put online companies off from doing business in the UK.
“Not only can unintended consequences from well-meaning regulation weaken competition, it could also create barriers, negatively impact on consumer experience and limit the ability to deliver value,” Woodford wrote.
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