The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (“BAI”) has published a new draft of its Children’s Commercial Communications Code, opening it up to a second phase of public consultation. The Code seeks to regulate commercial communications that are of specific interest to children. The original draft garnered particular criticism from public figures and the dairy industry regarding the proposed ban on the advertising of cheese on television and radio before 9pm.

The latest draft of the Code imposes strict guidelines on the advertising of foods that are classified as HFSS (high in fat, salt and sugar). The BAI proposes banning advertisements of HFSS foods that are aimed at children. Using a method of food classification developed in the UK, foods such as cheese, breakfast cereals and sweetened fruit juices will be classified as HFSS and therefore be subject to the ban.

Public reaction to the proposals has been strong. A number of commentators from the food industry have claimed the draft Code is contrary to wider Government food policy that promotes Ireland’s dairy industry in foreign markets and appears to undermine it at home. It has been pointed out that Government nutritional policy encourages children to eat five portions of dairy products a day.  

Under proposals in the latest draft of the Code, celebrities, sports stars and licensed characters from television and film (animated or otherwise) will not be permitted to appear in advertisements for HFSS foods. The BAI will accept further submissions from the public up until 31 May 2012 at which point a final Code will be published and legislated for.