11.60 Children have high levels of consumption and considerable influence on family spending. Advertising and marketing targets them directly from an increasingly young age. There is considerable community concern about the effects of advertising on children. Young people themselves consider that advertisements should be more accurate and honest. 84% of respondents to our survey stated that advertisements are truthful either only sometimes or never.
They shouldn’t make the products seem heaps better than they are. The good and bad or not so good points of the item should be told too.
Some research has been done on the effects of advertising on children.The Federal Bureau of Consumer Affairs has reported that children below the age of five years are unable to discriminate consistently between programs and advertisements, especially when they are similar in style. Further, children below seven or eight years are said to possess little or no ability to recognise the persuasive intent of television advertising. However, there is continuing debate about the level of regulation needed to protect children at different ages and stages of development from inappropriate marketing techniques.
Regulatory and complaints mechanisms
11.61 The CTS set out restrictions on advertisements on commercial television during quota programs. No advertisements may be broadcast during nominated pre-schoolers’ viewing periods. At other times, broadcasters are required to ensure that commercials and sponsorship announcements are clearly distinguishable from programs to child viewers. In addition, stations may not broadcast advertisements designed to put undue pressure on children to ask their parents or other people to purchase an advertised product or service. Advertisements may not state or imply that a product makes children who own it superior to their peers or that a person who buys an advertised product for a child is more generous than a person who does not. CTS 17 provides that advertisements may not mislead or deceive children.
11.62 Where children or carers consider a commercial to be deceptive or misleading within the meaning of section 52 of the Trade Practices Act, they can approach the ACCC. In principle the Trade Practices Act protects child consumers from misleading trade practices to the same extent as adults. However, in practice courts may have difficulty establishing what is misleading to a child consumer particularly in regard to advertising.
11.63 The Advertising Standards Council ceased operation on 31 December 1996. This left children and their carers without access to an independent complaints mechanism for concerns about many advertisements. The Australian Association of National Advertisers has recently announced that it will fund the establishment of an Advertising Standards Board to hear grievances about all forms of advertising before the end of 1997. The Board will be composed of members from the media industry and the community and will have recommendatory powers only. The Inquiry supports the establishment of the Advertising Standards Board. It should take into account the particular needs of child consumers when considering complaints about advertising.
Recommendation 65 The proposed Advertising Standards Board should take into account the particular needs of child consumers when considering complaints about advertising.
Reducing potential for adverse impact
11.64 Concern about the potentially harmful effects of advertising on children is not restricted to the Australian community. Tight controls on advertising during television programs directed at children have been introduced in a number of overseas jurisdictions.
11.65 In Quebec advertisements directed at children and adults can only be broadcast when the 2 to 11 year old age group represents less than 15% of the audience. Advertisement directed exclusively at children may only be broadcast during programs where the audience is less than 5% children. This ensures that children have adult supervision during peak times of advertising to children.
11.66 Sweden, Norway, Greece, Germany, Belgium, France and Austria ban advertising during children’s TV programs. Danish regulation of advertising directed at children is relatively similar to that in Australia and provides, for example, that advertisements must not contain a direct appeal to children to persuade others to buy the product being promoted and must not give the children the impression that they will have physical or psychological advantages if they buy the product. In addition, children under the age of 14 cannot give recommendations or testimonies about any product or service.
11.67 Research on the effects of advertising on children at different ages and stages of development should be reviewed to enable the preparation of guidelines for all advertisers to protect children at different ages and stages of development from harm. The review should look at international material in the area such as the Scandinavian reports that lead to the banning of advertising during children’s television programs. It should consider what effect exposure to advertising has on young people who are introduced to it at a later age. The advertising guidelines should include information on what constitutes misleading practices in relation to young media consumers. Consumer Affairs Queensland suggested that the following questions should also be considered during the course of the research review.
To what extent do ‘misleading practices’ and all child directed advertising impact on the buying habits of child consumers?
What degree of regulation is required?
How successful are current overseas attempts at regulation?
Do ‘safe’ forms of advertising exist which can be used to promote children’s products?
Recommendation 66 Research on the effects of advertising on children at different ages and stages of development should be reviewed to enable the preparation of best practice guidelines for all advertisers to protect children at different ages and stages of development from harm.
Implementation. The Department of Communications and the Arts, the ABA and the Consumer Affairs Division of the Department of Industry, Science and Tourism should conduct this review in consultation with the relevant community groups, provide the results to OFC and assist OFC to develop appropriate best practice guidelines for distribution to advertisers.
 A recent survey conducted for the NSW Dept of Fair Trading found that misleading advertising is a major concern to consumers — 41% of respondents stated that they had been personally mislead and 81% believed others had experienced this problem: Dept of Fair Trading Lifting the Game: Summary of the Benchmark Survey of Consumer Issues in NSW Dept of Fair Trading 1997, 5.
 Survey Question 10.
 Survey Response 121.
Final Report: Advertising Directed at Children Federal Bureau of Consumer Affairs Canberra 1995, 4. See also S Frith & B Biggins (eds) Children and Advertising: A Fair Game? New College Institute for Values Research, University of NSW Sydney 1994.
 See eg Australian Association of National Advertisers IP Submission 132; Advertising Federation of Australia IP Submission 162; B Biggins IP Submission 197; B Biggins IP Submission 218.
 Since 1 July 1997 advertising has been permitted on Pay TV: Broadcasting Services Act 1992 (Cth) s 101(1). It is anticipated that it will be regulated by the Pay TV code of practice.
 CTS 13(2): ABA Australian Children’s Television ABA Sydney 1997, 29.
 CTS 15: ABA Australian Children’s Television ABA Sydney 1997, 29.
 CTS 18(1): ABA Australian Children’s Television ABA Sydney 1997, 29.
 CTS 18(2): ABA Australian Children’s Television ABA Sydney 1997, 29. See CTS 13–23 generally. s 6 of the Federation of Australian Commercial Television Stations’ code of practice also sets out guidelines for advertising during children’s programs.
 ABA Australian Children’s Television ABA Sydney 1997, 29.
 See para 11.16.
 Australian Association of National Advertisers Media Release 28 August 1997. See also A Hornery ‘Complaints about ads to go before new body’ The Sydney Morning Herald 29 August 1997, 7.
 The need for an independent review body was also identified by: Women’s Advisory Council DRP Submission 26; NT Government DRP Submission 71; Consumer Affairs Qld DRP Submission 81.
 ‘[I]ndustry should…ensure that any complaints handling scheme is well publicised, easily accessible, efficient and fair and impartial. Information obtained through the process should be used to address systemic problems’: Consumer Affairs Qld DRP Submission 81.
 Federal Bureau of Consumer Affairs Final Report: Advertising Directed at Children Federal Bureau of Consumer Affairs Canberra 1995, 8. The Quebec approach is supported by Australian Family Association (WA) IP Submission 125; Association of Heads of Independent Schools of Australia IP Submission 128.
 B Biggins IP Submission 218. The European Court of Justice has ruled that the Swedish law prohibiting television advertisements aimed at children under 12 is precluded by the Television Without Frontiers directive: (1997) (August) Screen Digest 189.
Radio and Television Act 1992 (Den) ss 16,18.
Radio and Television Act 1992 (Den) s 23(2).
 Consumer Affairs Qld DRP Submission 81. Other documents of interest would be the guidelines on child friendly advertising produced by the Consumentenbond in the Netherlands as well as its report on the success of unconventional methods of advertising children’s toys, food and entertainment.
DRP Submission 81.