NBC Universal Bans Junk-Food Ads From More Kids Shows

Restrictions Affect ION's Qubo Programming on Local NBC Stations, Telemundo

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WASHINGTON (AdAge.com) -- NBC Universal is expanding a ban on ads promoting unhealthy food from its Qubo block of original children's programming to similar shows on the local stations it owns, putting more pressure on other networks to follow.

The network announced today that 26 owned-and-operated stations of NBC and Telemundo Networks would stop taking the ads effective June 1, 2008.

ION Media Networks
Qubo is a multiplatform block of original children's programming that airs in English on NBC and in Spanish on Telemundo. ION Media Networks, which provides the three-hour block of kids shows on NBC and Telemundo and also sells ads for both, last month pledged to stop airing ads for unhealthy foods during those programs, including the package it produces for NBC with Scholastic, Corus Entertainment and Classic Media.

ION at the time said the pledge formalized a practice that had already been put in place and that it also wouldn't sell the ads on its own channel, which is seen in 60 markets and on some cable systems.

Now NBC Universal is expanding on that pledge. "Our recognition that obesity is a serious threat to Hispanic children's present and long-term health has been at the forefront of our community efforts for some time," said Ibra Morales, president of Telemundo Stations Group.

Childhood obesity task force
Executives of ION and Telemundo sit on a task force on childhood obesity created by two senators and several Federal Communication Commission commissioners. Ms. Morales credited the move in part to the task force.

While broad in concept, the pledge's real-life impact could be small. Ten marketers responsible for two-thirds of food ads aimed at children in 2004 have all pledged to either drop advertising on children's shows or limit ads on those shows to more nutritious products.
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