The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) has announced a public consultation regarding draft commercial codes that would prohibit the advertising of foods high in fat, sugar and salt (HFSS) during TV programs where more than 50 percent of viewers are younger than age 18. According to a March 30, 2012, BAI press release, the consultation considers new drafts of the General Commercial Communications Code and Children’s Commercial Communications Code, the latter of which currently makes commercials, sponsorships and other product placements “of particular interest to children, or those broadcast during children’s program[s],… responsible in their messaging and portrayal of food and drink to those aged under 18.” Drafted after receiving more than 226 submissions from a previous consultation, the proposed codes would specifically regulate advertisements for HFSS products as well as adopt a “nutrient profiling model” “to assess the nutritional profile of food and non-alcoholic drink.”

In particular, the draft Children’s Commercial Code would not only bar HFSS food and drink ads during children’s programs but would forbid celebrities, sports stars, program characters, or licensed characters from appearing in these types of commercial communications. BAI would also bar such advertisements from making health claims or promotional offers, while its general code would further limit HFSS food marketing “so that no more than 25% of sold advertising time and only one in four advertisements for HFSS products [would be] permitted across the broadcasting day.”

“We are putting the Draft Codes out to public consultation over the next eight weeks so that all interested members of the public—including those from the health sector; food production industry, broadcasters and advertisers—can offer their view on the BAI’s proposals,” said BAI Chair Bob Collins, who noted that the new rules attempt “to strike a balance” between groups advocating a complete ban on certain foods until the 9 pm watershed and those urging exemptions for foods “considered to be of high economic importance.” The agency will accept responses to the consultation until May 31, 2012.

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