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Ofcom reports on children’s increased exposure to alcohol advertising on TV

posted on 28 May, 2013   (public)

On 24 May Ofcom published a report on children’s and young people's exposure to alcohol advertising, which shows that the average number of alcohol adverts seen by children per week has increased significantly from 2.7 in 2007 to 3.2 in 2011. The research looks at how the amount of advertising seen by children aged 4-15 and young people aged 16-24 has evolved and considers this in the context of changes in viewing habits and the volume of advertising shown on commercial television channels between 2007 and 2011. According to the report, children watch more programmes aimed at an adult audience. Moreover, they shift to channels with more advertising. As a result, their exposure to all forms of advertising, including alcohol, has increased.

The current rules in the United Kingdom prohibit alcohol adverts in or around programmes likely to appeal particularly to under 18s. Broadcasters predict whether a programme is likely to be of particular appeal to under 18s based on their experience and audience data available for similar programmes in the past. However, this kind of judgment is difficult to make.

As a result, Ofcom has asked UK’s co-regulatory bodies in the field of advertising to review the effectiveness of current regulation both in relation to enforcement of the current rules and whether these rules are sufficiently comprehensive.

  • Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), which ensures compliance with advertising rules, has been asked to investigate the audience data to determine whether broadcasters have made the right judgments and where they haven’t, to take enforcement action to ensure children remain protected.
  • Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice (BCAP), which keeps the rules under review, has been asked to consider what improvements can be made to the way in which broadcasters predict whether programmes will be of particular appeal to children.

Ofcom announced that they will undertake further research to re-examine children’s exposure to alcohol advertising and review the impact of any steps taken to improve the effectiveness of regulations protecting children from alcohol advertising on TV.

Ofcom Research Document: Children’s and young people’s exposure to alcohol advertising 2007 to 2011

Source: Ofcom website