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Poland: The self-regulation of major broadcasters and bill concerning the ban on junk food advertising

Piotr Zawadzki

20 November 2014
On 29 October 2014, a group of major Polish broadcasters, including TVN, Polsat, TVP (the Polish national broadcaster) and ITI Neovision entered into a self-regulation agreement on the advertising of foods and drinks to children below the age of 12. The agreement was drafted and executed in cooperation with representatives of the National Broadcasting Council (the Polish media regulator), and the Advertising Council (a reputable NGO dealing with ethics in advertising).

The broadcasters undertook that from 1 January 2015 no programmes directed at children under the age of 12 can be accompanied by commercials, including information on sponsorship, of certain, "unhealthy" foods and drinks. The undertaking concerns products containing ingredients that are not recommended for consumption in excessive amounts (such as saturated fats, sodium, and sugars, etc.). The list of ingredients and their recommended amounts is included in an appendix to the understanding. The appendix was drafted in collaboration with the National Food and Nutrition Institute (the leading research and development organization committed to, among other things, the prevention of food related diseases).

It should be noted that, according to the appendix, a number of products should not be advertised to minors under the age of 12, irrespective of the amounts of listed ingredients contained therein. This specifically concerns chocolate, jams, marmalades, sweets, sweet drinks (sodas), as well as crisps, potato-based snacks, and dough-based products.

The above appears to be part of a more general move aimed at limiting children's access to products considered to be unhealthy and leading to the obesity of minors, as well as other related diseases. The lower house of the Polish parliament has recently passed a bill on the ban on selling and advertising such products in schools. The bill is yet to be accepted by the Senate, but it seems rather likely that it will enter into force in mid-2015. The existing draft covers no details as to what exactly is to be banned; this is to be specified in a separate implementing act. However, it seems very likely that, according to the government declarations, this will directly relate to those products such as chocolate, sweets, sweet drinks (sodas), and crisps, etc.

Piotr Zawadzki

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