FCC's Food Marketing Majority: Give Self-Regs a Chance


The FCC's food marketing majority told Congress to that they would be willing to step in if self-regulation on kids TV food ads did not measure up, but weren't ready to set a government standard on what foods should not be marketed to kids.

That majority is FCC Chairman Kevin Martin and commissioners Deborah Taylor Tate and Michael Copps, all members of a government-industry task force charged with coming up with food marketing changes in the face of a growing childhood obesity problem.

At an FCC oversight hearing in the House Telecommunications & Internet Subcommittee Tuesday, Chairman Ed Markey (D-Mass.) pointed out that 11 food manufacturers had committed not to market "unhealthy" foods to kids under 12.

Markey and at least one other Democratic representative were concerned that the companies would be defining what qualified as "unhealthy." 

Lois Capps (D-Calif.) asked whether there should be some uniform standard.

FCC Chairman Kevin Martin said standards can be helpful, but said he thought it was important to try and let voluntary measures work, and that he had yet to hear back from advocacy groups about what they thought about the 11 companies' efforts. Still, he said, he would entertain the possibility of stepping in in terms of the media companies under the FCC's purview.

Tate told Markey that she was hopeful self-regulation would be sufficient and that she wanted to wait until September, when the task force plans to report to Congress, but that she would be open to considering regulation if the media companies had not stepped up.

Copps also said the FCC could look into regulating, "depending on the commitment from the food companies and the media."