On August 18, we reported on meetings held between Senator Brownback of Kansas and representatives of the advertising community dealing with the subject of the advertising of "unhealthy foods." It looks like those meetings have led to action as, according to a Hollywood Reporter story today, the FCC will be forming an obesity task force to look at such advertising.
FCC task forces often do nothing more than study an issue, but sometimes they develop recommendations that lead to regulatory actions. No matter where this task force ends up, broadcasters need to stay involved in the process to make sure that it does not lead to ill-defined rules that are difficult or impossible to comply with. Can you imagine having to weigh the fat content or caloric impact of all foods that are being advertised on your station? Might you have to channel McDonald’s chicken McNuggets ads to some late-night safe harbor, while the ads for salads would be permissible at any time of day? The permutations that are possible are both innumerable and a little frightening. This is a proceeding that bears careful monitoring by the broadcaster.