TV channels bristle at prospect of Johnson's junk food ad ban

Photo: Getty
Photo: Getty

Broadcasters have brought into question Boris Johnson’s alleged junk food advertising ban, claiming they could be forced to make cuts of more than £200m ($255.8m) to programme budgets.

The government is rumoured to be launching an aggressive strategy restricting how unhealthy food is sold in efforts to combat obesity in the UK.

If brought into play, junk food ads before 9pm would be nixed.

ITV would be in line to lose about £100m of income if a pre-watershed ban is implemented, according to television industry estimates reported in The Guardian.

Channel 4 would also suffer an estimated £40m annual blow, which is nearly a tenth of its programming budget for the year.

READ MORE: Junk food ad ban speculation rattles UK food industry

The government’s full plan has not been released, leaving broadcasters guessing in the meantime.

This move may leave channels vulnerable to losing out to Netflix, which relies on subscription fees rather than advertising revenue.

Yesterday, the Food and Drink Federation (FDF) has called the plans a “slap in the face” after the industry’s hard work to keep the UK fed during COVID-19.

If measures go ahead hard-pressed shoppers could see their weekly shop costs rise “at an average cost of £600 per family,” it said.

Alongside this, UK TV ad spend has already seen record rates of decline since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.

An annual report from the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising found that UK ad budgets have contracted at the quickest pace since data collection began 20 years ago.

It also found that 50.7% of UK companies slashed their budgets between March and June. 

Recent NHS studies have shown that a large proportion of adults in the UK are overweight. Research also suggests that being overweight puts you at a higher risk from coronavirus and can put you at greater risk of serious illness or death.