BAI launches consultation on Draft General and Children’s Commercial Communications Codes

The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) has today (30th March) launched a public consultation on a new Draft Children’s Commercial Communications Code and a new Draft General Commercial Communications Code.

Under existing rules, commercial communications which are of particular interest to children or those broadcast during children’s programmes, are required to be responsible in their messaging and portrayal of food and drink to those aged under 18.  Commercial communications include advertising, sponsorship and product placement.

The new Draft Codes have been developed under the BAI’s obligations as set out in the Broadcasting Act 2009.

The Draft Codes deal, in particular, with the approach to be taken to the regulation of commercial communications for products that are high in fat, salt and sugar (HFSS).  To this end, it recommends the adoption of the ‘nutrient profiling model’ which is a tool developed for use by the broadcast media to assess the nutritional profile of food and non-alcoholic drink.

The Draft Codes have been informed by responses received to the BAI’s first stage of consultation on this matter, undertaken between August and October 2011. The Draft Codes are also informed by the report of an Expert Working Group and the provisions of the Broadcasting Act 2009.

Some 226 submissions were received in response to the first consultation from a wide variety of sources, including members of the public; the broadcasting sector; politicians; NGOs; groups representing the food and drink production sector; the health sector and the diet and nutrition sector.

The new Draft Children’s Commercial Code proposes that children’s commercial communications for HFSS food and drink shall not:

1) be permitted in children’s programmes as defined by the code;

2) include celebrities or sports stars;

3) include programme characters;

4) include licensed characters e.g. characters and personalities from cinema releases;

5) contain health or nutrition claims; or

6) include promotional offers.

The new Draft BAI General Commercial Code proposes to limit HFSS advertising so that no more than 25% of sold advertising time and only one in four advertisements for HFSS products will be permitted across the broadcasting day.

Launching the public consultation today, the Chairperson of the BAI, Bob Collins, said: “the BAI received a very significant and divergent response from the first round of consultation on this issue.  The rules in the BAI’s Draft Codes, which have taken into consideration all of these responses, are targeted and proportionate.”

“Some respondents to our initial consultation wanted a complete ban on certain foods until 9pm in the evening; while others wanted exemptions to be applied to a range of foods that were considered to be of high economic importance to certain sectors of the economy.”

“The Draft Codes strike a balance between these divergent views.  Most importantly, the Codes ensure that the BAI executes its legal responsibilities in terms of protecting the interests of children.  In putting forward the Draft Codes, the BAI is not telling people what to eat, but is trying to support the creation of an environment in which more healthy food choices can be made,” he said.

The BAI is issuing the Draft Codes in line with its statutory obligations and in order to solicit the public’s views on the new Draft Codes. “We are putting the Draft Codes out to public consultation over the next eight weeks so that all interested members of the public – including those from the health sector; food production industry, broadcasters and advertisers – can offer their view on the BAI’s proposals” said Mr. Collins.

Responses to the consultation should be submitted not later than Thursday, 31st May, 2012.

A copy of the draft code is available at:

Media Queries to:

Catherine Heaney

DHR Communications

01 4200580 / 087 2309835