This morning I woke up to news of the changing face of children's television programming - or at least children's television commercial programming. A group of 11 food companies - including McDonald's, Coca-Cola, and Kellogg's - have announced voluntary limits in marketing towards children. This move is seen as a pre-emptive measure so that the Federal Trade Commission - who is holding a hearing on the subject - will not place regulatory rules that may ban all junk food advertising to children. Sort of a "see, we're good guys don't make us stop!" type of thing.

So what does this mean for children's television? Well, the companies have agreed to stop advertising to children under 12 products that do not conform to a set of nutritional standards. However, it's only for children's programming, not family-friendly programming.

For example, while General Mills will no longer be advertising Trix to the 12-and-under crowd, it will continue to peddle Cocoa Puffs, which have one less gram of sugar per serving. And it will be able to continue advertising Trix on television shows and other media that are considered to cater to “families” rather than just children.

To learn more about the self-regulated ban,

Several companies are also talking about reformulating their recipes in order to meet those standards. And some have even pledged to stop using characters in ads.

But under the new self-imposed industry rules, the captain's Website would be shuttered. Other companies, like Pepsico, have pledged to stop using characters in ads unless they're touting a healthy product. McDonald's plans to only promote Happy Meals that weigh in under 600 calories.

The whole thing is really interesting to me. I'm not sure if it will really make a difference, but I'm still having a hard time trying to picture Saturday morning cartoons without Fruity Pebbles commercials.

Source: MSNBC, NY Times and Marketplace
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