In a Public Notice issued today, the FCC announced the membership of a Task Force to study how the Media affects childhood obesity. We reported on the formation of the task force in October, but its membership is just being announced, and its first meeting will be taking place on Valentines Day (probably without red hearts filled with chocolates for the members). The task force is comprised of representatives of various public interest groups, food and media industry representatives, two FCC Commissioners and Senators Brownback and Harkin. The Public Notice states that the Task Force will focus on voluntary means by which the media can help fight childhood obesity. At the end of their study, the Task Force will issue a report on its findings.
This issue is one which the broadcaster should follow closely. Senator Brownback has made this issue his own and, with his announcement this week that he is exploring a run for President, we can be sure that more will be heard about this issue. We reported in August on his initial attempts to have the industry adopt guidelines to limit the advertising to children of unhealthy foods. Also, Commissioner Tate has enthusiastically promoted this task force, issuing a statement today applauding the start of its important business of addressing this societal problem. With these officials invested in this issue, broadcasters will no doubt face pressures to restrict their advertising of unhealthy food. Watch for the results and recommendations of this Task Force in the next year.