Pediatricians Call for Ad Restrictions

Dec 4, 2006  •  Post A Comment

The nation’s pediatricians are calling on Congress and the Federal Communications Commission to impose severe new limits on TV advertising that could impact kids, adding another threat to broadcasters from the Democratic-controlled Congress that convenes in January.

In a policy statement published in the American Academy of Pediatrics journal Pediatrics scheduled to be released today, the 65,000-member group wants the number of ads during kids shows halved, alcohol ads limited to product pictures and text, junk food ad banned during shows viewed predominantly by those under 8 years old and erectile dysfunction ads limited to running after 10 p.m.

“Advertising has an impact on many of the most crucial areas of child development-smoking, sex and obesity,” said Dr. Victor C. Strasburger, a pediatrics professor at the University of New Mexico and the statement’s lead author. “If we are concerned about those issues, we need to take a hard look at the advertising.”

He said that the policy updated one crafted 11 years ago and is aimed widely.

“We hope to alert pediatricians and parents to the current problems and to effect some changes,” he said.

Dr. Don Shifrin, head of the committee that created the statement, acknowledged that getting the recommendations implemented may be difficult.

“We would like someone to pay attention to this. We think if we knock on the door enough times, sooner or later someone will answer.”

The group also urged Congress to convene a national task force to “propose solutions toward limiting children’s exposure to unhealthy advertising”; TV networks to do more to offer contraceptive ads and public service announcements; and parents to limit their kids’ non-educational screen time to no more than two hours per day.

While other groups have offered similar proposals before, the coming congressional turnover could boost the impact of the latest proposal.

“The Democrats are seriously concerned about public health and interested in using government to protect kids where the Republicans weren’t,” said Michael Jacobson, executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

Still, he said, cuts in the number of kids show ads and limits on alcohol ads are unlikely.

Beer Institute President Jeff Becker said the group “is wrong to blame alcohol advertising for the actions of underage teens who willingly break the law to drink illegally. The key to preventing illegal underage drinking is preventing youth access to alcohol, not restrictive measures or censorship.” He said beer ads only appear in programming where 70 percent of the audience is 21 or older.

A spokesman for the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America said its year-old ad policy restricts ED ads to programming where 80 percent of the audience is adult.