Lord Gilbert of Panteg, the Chairman of the Communications Committee, has written to the Rt Hon Matt Hancock MP, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, on the Government's proposed consultation on introducing a 9pm television watershed for advertising High in Fat, Salt or Sugar (HFSS) products.
In its action plan on childhood obesity published in June 2018 the Government committed to consult on introducing a 9pm television watershed for HFSS advertising as well as similar protection for children viewing adverts online. The Government aims to explore "options to ensure that any restrictions are proportionate ... and consider a focus on those products that children consume and most contribute to the problem of childhood obesity".
This follows a ban on the advertising of HFSS products during children's television programmes, and programmes with a high proportion of children viewers, which was introduced in 2007.
The Committee's letter
The Committee asked questions on the following issues:
- Evidence that further restrictions on television advertising of HFSS products will significantly reduce childhood obesity rates.
- The types of food that would fall within the scope of the watershed.
- Whether the Government intends to carry out an impact assessment of such a watershed on the production of original UK content by commercial public service broadcasters.
- Whether the Government will assess the effectiveness of the sugar tax before consulting on an HFSS advertising watershed.