There is a separate Code relating to Children’s Commercial Communications. A child for the purpose of the code is generally a person aged under 18 years. Some parts of the code are referable to protections applicable to persons under 6, 13 and 15 years of age.
The same definitions as apply to the General Commercial Communications Code are applicable to the Code dealing with advertising aimed at or seen or heard by children.
Children’s commercial communications are commercial communications that promote products, services, or activities that are deemed to be of particular interest to children and/or broadcast between children’s programmes.
Children’s programmes are programmes commonly referred to as such, or which have a profile of an audience of more than 50% under 18 years of age. They shall not take advantage of the natural credulity and sense of loyalty of children. They must not mislead or deceive children, and shall not exploit or without justifiable reason, play on fear.
Except where otherwise indicated children’s advertising sponsorship and children’s product placement falling with the scope of the code must comply with the general rules in relation to advertising and teleshopping and rules pertaining to sponsorship, television product placement of the General Commercial Communications Code.
- They shall ensure that on-screen messages and small print are clear, legible and remain on screen for a sufficient length of time to enable it to be read.
- They must give children an indication of the actual size of the product.
- They must indicate what batteries are required and whether they are supplied.
- They must indicate when a product has to be assembled.
- They must avoid the use of language, special effects or imaginative scenes which could confuse a child or lead them to believe that the product or service has capabilities or characteristics which it does not in reality possess.
- They shall not, in the case of toys or children’s possessions, make direct comparisons between existing and improved versions or models.
- Children’s commercial communications shall clearly indicate what parts, elements or accessories are included in any normal products and differentiate between those available at extra cost only.
The above provisions are applicable in respect of under 15 years. In the case of children under 6 years, they shall state orally any on-screen messages or small print in order to ensure that children under 6 years so understand.
Price, when given, shall be in euro and inclusive of VAT. Where any other purchases are required to secure this price, this must be stated. Communications that refer to free gifts or offers must specify all terms and conditions. Prices must be presented in a clear, simple and legible font and be voiced as part of the audio where appropriate.
Expensive toys shall state the price in the children’s commercial communication. This figure is stipulated by the Authority from time to time, but it is in the vicinity of €30.
Children’s commercial communications shall clearly indicate what parts, elements or accessories are included in any normal products and differentiate between those available at extra cost only.
Children’s commercial communications shall not imply that possession or use of a product will make the child or his family superior, physically, socially or psychologically. They shall not imply that the child or family will open to ridicule, contempt or be inferior if they did not possess the particular product or service.
They must be careful to avoid the implication that possession or use of a product shall contribute to or detract from the child’s popularity or acquisition of friends. They must not make the child feel inferior, disloyal or doubtful about their self-image.The use of adults pretending to be children in children’s commercial communications must not be offensive to the dignity of children.
The use of children to comment on or endorse products or services in children’s commercial communications is only permitted where they could reasonably be expected to use such products or be interested in them themselves. The appearance of children is permissible if they are a natural element in the depicted environment or necessary to explain or demonstrate the use of the product or service.
Children’s commercial communications shall not portray a child in a sexually provocative manner or provoke anxiety in children over their bodily appearance. Commercial communications shall not ask children to supply private information or details regarding themselves, family or friends unless it is part of a campaign that relates to their safety, health and wellbeing.
Children’s commercial communication shall not encourage children to enter into unsafe situations, strange places or talk to strangers. They shall not show children in morally or physically dangerous situations or behaving dangerously in the home or outside, including streets and road scenes, except where the sole purpose is to promote safety. They shall show children using appropriate safety equipment and respecting all safety rules when engaged in activities that require such, with adult supervision where appropriate.
Children’s commercial communications shall not show children using the internet without appropriate adult supervision. They shall not unreasonably show children using or close to dangerous substances or dangerous equipment.
Children’s commercial communications shall not encourage children to engage in or be portrayed in engaging in anti-social behaviour in particular bullying, taunting or teasing of other children, unless the sole purpose of such commination is discouraging such behaviour.
Children’s commercial communications should not generally, as a principle, include violence or include scenes that will cause distress to children. U/18
In instances where the inclusion of violent scenes may be necessary as part of a
- public service message or in order to demonstrate the product or service,
- broadcasters must schedule responsibly so as to ensure that such children’s
- commercial communications do not cause distress to children of this age group. U/6
Diet and Nutrition
Children’s commercial communications shall be responsible in the manner in which food is portrayed. They should not encourage an unhealthy lifestyle or unhealthy eating or drinking habits such as immoderate consumption, excessive or compulsive eating. U/18
Children’s commercial communications representing mealtimes should clearly and adequately depict the role of the product or service within the framework of a balanced diet. U/18 Children’s commercial communications must not contain any misleading or incorrect information about the nutritional value of a product. They must not make misleading or incorrect comparisons between foods. They must not imply that particular foods are a substitute or replacement for fruit and/or vegetables. U/18
Children’s commercial communications for HFSS food products and/or
The following rules shall apply to children’s commercial communications for HFSSfood products and/or services. Commercial communications for HFSS food products and/or services shall not be permitted in children’s programmes as defined by this Code. U/18
Children’s commercial communications for HFSS food products and/or services shall not include
- licensed characters. U/18
- health and nutrition claims. U/13
- promotional offers. U/13
Fast Food and Confectionery
All children’s commercial communications for fast food products, outlets and/or brands must display an acoustic or visual message stating ‘should be eaten in moderation and as part of a balanced diet. ‘Fast food’ is defined as ‘food coming under the recognised character of fast food and/or inexpensive cooked food which is prepared and served quickly and is readily accessible for purchase by children.
This is not intended to include prepared or convenient foods, purchased for preparation, and cooking in the home. They refer to inexpensive cooked food which is prepared and served quickly and is accessible for purchase by children.
Commercial communications for confectionery products must display acoustic and visual messages stating they are like in sugary foods and drinks can damage teeth. This also applies to carbonated drinks with the expectation of water.
Children’s commercial communications shall not portray or refer to celebrities or sports stars to promote food or drinks unless the commercial communication is part of the public health or education campaign. The Authority may make directions from time to time for this purpose.
Parents and guardians have primary responsibility for children but those responsible for commercial communications (including broadcasters) should support the parent/guardian relationship with children by scheduling responsibly and by not undermining the authority, responsibility or judgment of parents or guardians in the content of children’s commercial communications.
This includes the use of plot lines that encourage children to deceive or manipulate adults into purchasing or providing the product or service promoted. Children’s commercial communications shall not suggest that a parent, guardian or adult who purchases or provides a product or service for the child, is better, more intelligent or more generous than one who does not. U/1813.
Children’s commercial communications shall not directly encourage or exhort children to ask adults to buy products or services for them. They must state that adult approval must be sought where reasonable.
Characters and personalities from children’s programmes that are currently broadcast on indigenous services shall not be used to promote products or services (including HFSS food products and/or services) in children’s commercial communications. In this instance ‘currently’ means regular programming that is due for return in the next broadcast season.
This provision does not apply to children’s commercial communications for products, events or services, directly associated with programmes in which the characters personalities normally appear.
Timing and Scheduling
Children advertising shall be clearly separate from the problem content and must not include excerpts from children’s programmes that might blur the distinction between advertising and program content.
In the case of children’s commercial communications for products, events or services directly associated with the children’s programme, these must not be broadcast for two hours prior to the beginning and following the end of the programme in question/18
Christmas theme children’s after advertising must not be broadcast prior to 1st November annually. This refers to advertising that contains references either visual or acoustic to Christmas.
Children’s programs of less than 30-minute schedule duration may not be interrupted by advertising. Programs of a scheduled duration of 30 minutes or more may be interrupted by advertising once for each scheduled period of 30 minutes.