RESTRICTIONS JUNK FOOD ADVERTISEMENTS ON CHILDREN’S PROGRAMS

Abstract:

Under “The Regulation Amending the Commercial Advertising and Unfair Commercial Practices Regulation” entered into force on 28th of December 2018, advertising of foods and drinks not recommended for excessive consumption called “junk foods” such as chocolate, candy, wafer, chips and so on have been banned on Children’s radio and television programs. According to this Regulation, the list of foods and drinks not recommended for excessive consumption such as chocolate, candy, wafer, energy bar, cake, sweet biscuit, fruity pie, chocolate-covered biscuit, chips, cookies, juices, energy drinks, edible ice, all sweetener soft drinks and so on have been prepared by the Health Ministry under the “red category”. In this regard, the foods and drinks under this category will not be able to be advertised on children’s radio and television programs.

Explanations:

Based on childhood obesity and diabetes increase in Turkey, the Ministry of Commerce has taken action in order to stop the advertising of unhealthy food. The list of food and drinks was prepared by the Health Ministry within the framework of “The Regulation Amending the Commercial Advertising and Unfair Commercial Practices Regulation has been shared with the Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK). The new regulations will divide ads into red, orange and green categories. The foods and drinks listed under the “red category” will not be advertised on children’s programs. Ads for foods in the orange category can be advertised provided that the criteria are followed. Lastly, there will be no ban on commercials for the food and drinks which are defined under the green category.

The red category includes chocolate and sugar, wafers, energy bars, sweet sauces and desserts, cakes, sweet biscuits, fruity pie, chocolate covered biscuits, chips, cookies, fruit juices, energy drinks, all sweetener soft drinks or edible ice within the scope of this legal arrangement. Moreover, it has been stated that the food products under the red category will not be shown at the beginning, in the middle of or at the end of children’s TV programs, and commercials for products under this group have started not to be allowed 15 days after the Health Ministry unveils the list.

Apart from almost all broadcasted programs on thematic children channels including children programs, it is specifically emphasized that the food products under the red category will also be prohibited to be shown at regular Tv channels (general, news, health, sports) when they broadcast children’s programs.

It is stated that ads for foods in the orange category, will only be allowed to be shown at the beginning, in the middle of or at the end of children’s TV programs provided that the specified criteria are followed. Otherwise, there will be ban on commercials. With reference to this rule; “salty, spicy snacks like crackers; milk drinks, cereals, yoghurt, sour milk, kefir and cream; ready-to-eat and easily prepared foods such as cheese, pizza; composite dishes, such as butter, other fats and oils, bread and bread products, fresh or dried pasta, rice and cereals, processed meat, chicken and fish treated fruits and vegetables, sauces, dip sauces and salad dressings” will be allowed to be shown if they do not exceed the specified salt and sugar limits on the list. However, according to The Regulation on Procedures and Rules for Broadcasting Service’s provisional article 1, there is a transitional duration for 2 years to start the commercial supervisions for the foods in the orange category after the entry into force of the regulations. In other words, by taking into account this regulation published in the Offical Gazette on 27.03.2018, the aforementioned commercial supervisions for the ads for foods’under the orange category will start on 27.03.2020.

Finally, the “green category” in the Ministry’s list includes healthy food products. There will be no ban on commercials for meat, fish, poultry, egg, milk, yogurt, cheese, vegetables, fruits and legumes.

According to the Health Ministry List, the ads for food products which are prohibited to be shown at children programs can be broadcasted provided that they will include some warnings during the broadcast of all programs except for children programs (at the beginning, in the middle or at the end).

Accordingly, it is stated that the advertisement of these products should have written warnings at the bottom of the screen in the form of flowing bands, they should be easily read by TV viewers, lastly, they should encourage TV viewers to pursue a regular and balanced nutrition lifestyle.

If broadcasting organizations do not follow the above-mentioned rules, they will be responsible for a pecuniary fine of between 1% and 3% of the advertising revenues of the previous month in accordance with the law on the Establishment of Radio and Television Enterprises and their Media Services. If Broadcasters do not follow these regulations again, the program will be ceased 5 times for a second offense. If broadcasters continue to break regulations, the program will be ceased for up to 10 days or their license will be cancelled.

In conclusion, it has been aimed that the rates of childhood obesity and diabetes in Turkey will decrease within the framework of the new arrangements.

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