Channel 4 CEO Alex Mahon has urged MPs to “be careful” over a potential watershed fast food television advert ban. Mahon said that a ban could lead to consequences “worse than the current situation”.
The government’s proposed plans would see a ban on advertising food products on television that are high in fat, sugar, or salt before 9pm.
Speaking at a meeting of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, Mahon said that a ban may mean that everyday food products such as olive oil and chutney will not be able to be advertised during the day.
Mahon said: “So, right now, for example, we wouldn’t be able to advertise olive oil during Countdown, where there aren’t probably many young people watching.” He went on to warn MPs fast food and junk food advertisers put their money into “hyper-targeted advertising” online. “We do have to remember, from an advertising perspective, they might just put that money into digital platforms, where they can really target young people.”
The television boss said that Channel 4 is committed to eradicating childhood obesity however she said that she wants open conversation to ensure a ban does not have an overall more negative impact.
Mahon told MPs: “I do think we need to be careful there isn’t a simplistic measure put in place on this complex issue, which would end up with money coming out of public service TV, and therefore out of British programmes and content.”