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New code on ads a toothless tiger, say critics


Julian Lee

Sydney Morning Herald
April 17, 2008

A MARKETING industry code banning the sexualisation of children and the use of pester power pays little more than lip service to the regulators, health campaigners and child advocates say.

Details of the new children's advertising code were announced yesterday as part of the marketing industry's response to recent attacks on junk-food advertising and alcopop marketing.

"The review has taken note of widespread community concerns, particularly around the sexualisation of children and the portrayal of body image, and we have responded accordingly," said Ian Alwill, chairman of the peak advertiser's body, the Australian Association of National Advertisers.

However, it admitted that most companies already refrained from using sexual images of children in their ads, leading one campaigner to question its motives.

"We are struggling to find an ad that would be affected by their clause on the sexualisation of children," Elizabeth Handsley of Young Media Australia said, "and I think it's interesting to note that they are releasing the solution to the problem just as a Senate inquiry is looking into this area."

A Senate inquiry into the wider issue of "corporate pedophilia", pushed by the Democrats leader, Lyn Allison, is getting under way and is due to report at the end of June.

The code also outlaws pester-power ads but Mr Alwill was unable to give an example of one. Sarah MacKay, of the Obesity Policy Coalition, said the code changed little and her organisation would continue to urge government legislation of junk-food marketing to children.



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