Included in the current Children's Television Standards 2009 (the CTS 2009) is a recognition that children, due to their developmental levels, require special consideration in areas such as advertising and the presentation of material that 'may be harmful to them'.
The CTS 2009 maintain, clarify or strengthen the CTS 2005 provisions regulating advertising. The new CTS 33 clarifies the operation of premium offer provisions. The new CTS 35 also expands the prohibition in relation to the use of characters in advertising to include a range of popular characters and personalities, with some exceptions.
On 3 December 2009, the ACMA released the Guide to the Children’s Television Standards 2009, which provides guidance to the public and licensee broadcasters on the way in which the ACMA may interpret new, amended or complex provisions within the CTS 2009, including provisions relating to advertising to children. The Guide was since updated on 25 May 2011 to incorporate the ACMA’s reasoning from recent investigations.
- Monitoring Report on industry self regulation of food and beverage advertising to children - PDF (587 kb) or Word (.docx 236 kb)
- Children’s Television Standards 2009 – substantive obligations effective from 1 January 2010
- Children’s Television Standards 2009 - Explanatory Statement
- Review of the Children’s Television Standards 2005 – Final Report of the Review – August 2009
- Guide to the Children’s Television Standards 2009 - Word or PDF
All advertising directed specifically to children must meet the requirements set out in the CTS. This applies to advertising specifically directed to children broadcast in C programs.
The CTS do not allow advertising during preschool (P) programs and limitations are placed on the broadcast of commercials during C programs. Five minutes of commercials are permitted in every 30 minutes of C program material, except in the case of Australian C drama.
In setting these limits, the ACMA recognises the practical issues involved for the Australian free-to-air commercial stations in funding quality children's programs and the role advertising plays in securing such funding.
The CTS include requirements for the presentation of advertising and other material to children, such as the presentation of prizes, competitions, premium offers, restrictions on promotions and endorsements by popular characters, a prohibition on advertising alcoholic drinks, restrictions on the number of times a commercial can be broadcast during C programs, misleading advertising, and clear presentation.
The underlying premise for these restrictions is to ensure that advertising material directed to children is presented clearly and in a way which children understand. In particular, CTS 30 states: 'No advertisement may mislead or deceive children' and 'nothing in these standards is to be taken to limit the obligation imposed by CTS 30'.
The CTS require that unsuitable material, both in programs and commercials, must not be broadcast in programs pre-classified by the ACMA as C or P programs. Programs and commercials must not demean individuals or groups of people on the basis of race, nationality, ethnicity, gender, sexual preference, religion or mental or physical disability; present images or events in a way which is unduly frightening or distressing to children; depict unsafe uses of a product or unsafe situations which may encourage children to engage in activities dangerous to them; or advertise products officially declared unsafe by a Commonwealth authority or by an authority having jurisdiction within a licensee's licence area.
Complaints on matters concerning advertising directed specifically to children can be made directly to the ACMA.