Walt Disney has acknowledged the crucial role television plays in influencing the diet and behavior of children. As a result, it has instituted a ban on junk-food advertising on its network for children.
The children’s network has already launched a healthy foods initiative for use in its Disney themed fun parks. But now, it is going to impose a strict new standard for the beverages and foods that are being advertised on its Disney XD network for Saturday morning Disney programming on ABC, Radio Disney and on the internet. Disney Junior and the Disney Channel are also under these new guidelines. Although these two channels are not ad-supported, they do receive brand sponsorships.
Disney is one of the more recent networks to adopt a healthier eating standard. This change for Disney comes some years after changes made by Viacom, Inc, who owns Nickelodeon, and Turner Broadcasting, who owns the Cartoon Network. These two networks changed their policies in 2007. The new policies forbid the use of any characters from their programming being used to for promotion on products that don’t specifically meet certain nutritional guidelines. Nickelodeon, in particular, uses standards that were developed by the food industry, which help govern the any advertising to consumers under the age of 12.
From now on, any advertisers that wish to promote foods or beverages using Disney’s networks must meet certain guidelines regarding the amount of calories, sugar and fat content, and also the serving size of the product. These guidelines follow specific government recommendations.
However, the recent changes that have been instituted by Disney will not take affect until 2015, due to contractual agreements that are already in existence. The 3 year difference will also give companies time to recreate their products to comply with the new terms.
This changeover started six years ago for Disney. Six years ago is when it instituted healthier foods and beverages to its theme parks in Orlando and Anaheim. Now, when visitors want a snack at one of these parks, they have choices that include low-fat milk and carrots in the children’s meals. Parents are allowed to request something else, for allergies or other health-related problems.
To help parents identify the healthy choice on their menus, Disney is using the Mickey Check icon. This icon will be placed next to the nutritious items sold on menus in stores, at restaurants and kiosks used in its parks and online.
The Chairman and Chief Executive for Disney, Rober A. Iger, said Disney has taken steps to support good choices for families. He said, now, Disney is taking the next important step forward in setting new advertising standards for children in food.
These efforts have been applauded by the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood. This is a non-profit group. The group’s associate director, Josh Golin, said these new standards are a step in the right direction. However, the three year delay on instituting these new standards has been questioned by the group. Golin went on to admit he would have preferred that government regulations apply to all companies, and enforced uniformly.