Rep. Edward Markey warns that if media companies don’t rein in excessive junk food advertising aimed at young people, the government will take steps to do just that.
And the Massachusetts Democrat has the power to enact such reform – since January he has been the chairman of the powerful House Telecommunications & Internet Subcommittee.
In an interview with Broadcasting & Cable magazine, Markey said: “I want the media companies to step up to the plate the same way food companies are so that there is a commitment made by Viacom and Time Warner to make sure that children are not exposed to excessive junk food advertising.
“I am the author of the 1990 Children’s Television Act and these ads clearly counteract the intent of that law, which is to have educational and informational programming made available to children, which is obviously undermined if junk food ads predominate.”
Markey said he wants a “very strong standard” regarding junk food advertising and is prepared to recommend to the FCC that the agency should take action based on the children’s television act if the media companies aren’t willing to do so voluntarily.
One step the FCC could take would be to rule that no children’s show with a fast food ad could gain the agency’s educational/informational (E/I) stamp of approval, Markey told the magazine, adding:
“That would fall within the penumbra of the act’s intent so that the good programming is not undermined by the bad junk food commercials.
“The act limits overall commercial time on kids shows. If a show is telling a kid to eat an apple and exercise, and then the ads promote junk food, it undermines the intent of the law.”
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