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TVNZ's fast-food defence leaves foul taste

TVNZ's defence of fast-food advertising leaves foul taste

Green MP, Sue Kedgley is questioning TVNZ's commitment to its brand-new charter, following statements from TV bosses in support of fast-food advertising.

"I am amazed that TVNZ chief executive Ian Fraser is publicly defending fast food advertising and denying that his network influences or harms New Zealand's children by broadcasting food commercials that promote high fat, high sugar, high salt food to children," said Ms Kedgley, the Green spokesperson on Broadcasting and on Safe Food. "His comments fly in the face of logic."

"Why does he think fast-food chains spent more than $52 million last year on advertising their burgers, fries, syrup-sodas and sweets on television if not to influence children to pester their parents to buy more of these unhealthy products?

"Advertisers target children because they are vulnerable and susceptible to the messages and images they are constantly bombarded with on TV. If fast food advertisers spend $52 million, you can be sure they will make many millions more than that in sales to the kids they're targeting.

"It is just six days since the TVNZ Charter came into force. It quite clearly requires TVNZ to exhibit a sense of social responsibility and to 'maintain and observe a code of ethics that addresses the level and nature of advertising to which children are exposed.'

"It is completely inappropriate for the Chief Executive to campaign against a public health proposal by the Ministry of Health," Ms Kedgley said. His public campaign contravenes TVNZ's charter-driven social obligations and exposes the conflict at the heart of TVNZ's Charter between its social obligations and its commercial goals.

"Mr Fraser's contention that 'television does not take children to fast food outlets' is either incredibly naïve or it is a blatant attempt to preserve TVNZ's current level of advertising revenue.

"Under Mr Fraser's logic, TV should be allowed to target tobacco and liquor advertising at kids as well. After all, we couldn't accuse TV of taking children to tobacconists or pubs, could we Mr Fraser?"

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