BAI issues rules on food advertising to children during daytime shows

Chief Executive of the BAI, Michael O’Keeffe

Chief Executive of the BAI, Michael O’Keeffe

The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI ) has issued revised versions of its General and Children’s Commercial Communications Codes. The Codes have been updated to include rules to be applied to the promotion of High Fat, Salt and Sugar (HFSS ) food to children. The rules will come into effect on September 2 and will apply to all radio and television broadcasters regulated in the Republic of Ireland. Commercial communications include advertising, sponsorship and other forms of commercial announcements.

These rules state that commercial communications for HFSS food (including drinks ) shall not be permitted in children’s programmes. In addition, content rules will apply to commercial communications for HFSS food broadcast outside of children’s programmes but which are directed at children. Such commercial communications shall not:

Include celebrities or sports stars;

· Include programme characters;

· Include licensed characters eg. characters and personalities from cinema releases;

· Contain health or nutrition claims;

· Include promotional offers;

· No more than 25 per cent of sold advertising time and only one in four advertisements for HFSS food are permissible across the broadcast day on radio and television services.

In determining whether a food is to be classified as HFSS, advertisers will use a Nutrient Profiling Model. This model assesses the nutrients contained in a food to determine whether they are healthier or less healthy. Less healthy food will be subject to the rules and restrictions contained in the revised Codes. Any advertiser who wants to promote food during children’s programming or to target children with food promotions outside of children’s programming will be required to provide a signed certificate to broadcasters stating that the food product/service to be advertised is not a HFSS food.

Upon the recommendation of the Department of Health, advertisements and other commercial communications for cheese will be exempted from the Nutrient Profiling Model. Instead, commercials for cheese products that appear in children’s programmes or which are directed at children will be required to carry an on-screen message indicating the recommended maximum daily consumption limit for cheese. This exemption applies to cheese products only and not to products where cheese is an ingredient e.g. pizza.

Speaking about the launch of the new codes, Chief Executive of the BAI, Michael O’Keeffe, said: “In developing these revised Codes, the BAI has been mindful of its statutory obligations to consider the health of children while also ensuring appropriate and proportionate regulation for broadcasters. Having completed one of the most extensive consultations undertaken by the BAI, we are satisfied that the correct balance has been achieved and that the rules will create an environment that will support the health of children.”

The BAI has also published guidance notes on the Codes and the Nutrient Profiling Model as an aid for broadcasters, advertisers and members of the public in understanding the intent and application of the rules in a broadcast context. These can be accessed here.

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