With the commencement of the Children's Television Standards
2009 (CTS) on 1 January 2010, the standards
relating to advertising and product promotion to children have been
clarified and strengthened following widespread community concern
over the effect of food and beverage advertising on children.
Does the CTS affect you?
The CTS applies to all holders of commercial television
broadcasting licences allocated or renewed under the Broadcasting
Services Act 1992 (Cth) (licensee).
Licensees were required to have nominated their children's
(C) and preschool children's
(P) programming schedule for 2010 to the
Australian Communications and Media Authority
(ACMA) by 31 December 2009. Similar obligations
apply in subsequent years. Within these nominated periods, the CTS
is applicable and will be monitored by the ACMA.
What is the aim of the CTS?
The advertising and promotional requirements within the CTS aim
ensure children have access to a variety of quality television
programs made specifically for them; and
to provide protection to children from the possible harmful
effects of television.
Advertising and Promotional Requirements
The central advertising and promotional requirements under the
CTS are as follows:
Presentation of Prizes: Prizes are prohibited
from being offered during P programs. In contrast, during C
programs, a prize can be presented provided that the presenter does
not encourage the sale of the prize, the value of the prize is not
announced and only broad descriptions of the prize are provided.
Statements, for example, such as "this is a fantastic
prize" or "you cannot go without this prize" would
likely be prohibited.
Unsuitable Material: Certain advertisements
are considered unsuitable for children. These include advertising
alcoholic drinks, and advertisements that demean groups of people,
frighten or distress children and encourage children in activities
dangerous to them. The use of knives with the blade facing inwards
and close to the fingers may, for example, be deemed as unsuitable
Separating Advertisements and Sponsorship
Announcements: Mingling program and commercial content
within children's television programming has been specifically
addressed in the CTS. Under prescribed children's periods,
advertisements and sponsorship announcements must be clearly
distinguishable. This may mean, for example, a program is
prohibited where it is sponsored and shot within a theme-park and
logos displaying the theme-park are visible in the background.
Clear Presentation: Advertisements must
accurately represent the advertised product or service and must not
contain misleading or incorrect information. For example, a
requirement for accessories within a toy (such as batteries) must
be clearly understood by children.
Premium Offers: A premium offer is anything
offered with or without additional costs that is intended to induce
the purchase of an advertised product or service. This may include,
for example, a free action figure found within a packet of chips.
Where such offers are advertised, strict requirements have been
included in the CTS. These include a requirement that where an
offer is merely incidental to the advertised product, the offer
does not arouse any unreasonable expectation on the part of
consumer from that of the main product and that clear information
about the conditions of the premium offer are set out.
Competitions: Any competition referred to in a
C or P program or advertisement must contain a summary of the
relevant basic rules and a clear, fair and accurate statement about
the chance of winning. For example, where a prize is offered to a
select group of people during a competition, an announcement
stating "everyone has a chance to win" would likely be
Promotion by Popular Characters: Popular
characters and personalities are prohibited (with some exceptions)
from being used to endorse a commercial product or service during
periods that C and P programs are being broadcasted. Categories of
restricted popular characters include hosts or presenters from C
programs, popular cartoon characters (such as Bart Simpson from The
Simpsons) and popular personalities (such as high profile
cricketers, Olympic medallists and footballers). The prohibition
does not aim to restrict advertising of particular products and
does have specific exceptions, including promotions relating to
retail product packaging, product logos, DVDs, toys, games and
non-commercial products and services.
Food and Beverages: The CTS does not impose
any specific requirements where an advertisement takes place
promoting food or beverages.
The ACMA has announced its intention to monitor the
effectiveness of the CTS, including the provisions aimed at
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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