Wednesday, 16 April 2008

Sexual imagery banned in children's ads

Advertisements for kids' products must not include sexual imagery or imply that children are sexual beings, under changes to the national advertising code of conduct.

The Australian Association of National Advertisers (AANA) has announced changes to the Advertising to Children Code, after considering 26 submissions from parental groups and health and government bodies.

Included in the changes are regulations which rule out the sexualisation of children - classed as anyone aged 14 or under - in advertising which is published or broadcast in any form.

The code says advertising to children must not include sexual imagery that breaches community standards, or imply that children are sexual beings.

Ads must also not state or imply that owning a product will enhance a child's sexuality.

AANA chair Ian Alwill said the changes would meet the expectations of the Australian community.

"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," Mr Alwill said in a statement.

The changes come as a Senate inquiry, due to report by the end of June, investigates sources of premature sexualisation of children in mainstream media.

A broadening of the definition of alcohol also was included in the rule changes, to prevent any products associated with alcohol being advertised to children.

Another significant change to the code is a prohibition of ads that encourage children to pester their parents to buy a particular product.

Ads targeted at children must also not be placed in media unsuitable for kids.

Major food and beverage advertisers were currently working with international codes and nutrition guidelines to make sure ads directed at children aligned with industry standards, the AANA said.

The Advertising to Children Code is voluntary and compliance is self-regulated by advertisers.

Complaints were handled by the Advertising Standards Board and if an advertisement was found to have breached the code, it would be taken off air, an AANA spokesman said.

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