Table 6

Chronology of Key Events in US Regulations on Advertising to Children


National Association of Broadcasters' first adopted self-regulatory toy TV advertising guidelines.

Early 1970s

Action for Children's Television (ACT), a children's advocacy group calls on FCC and FTC to prohibit or limit TV advertising directed at children.


FCC adopts first federal policies restricting TV advertising. These include:

1. limits on overall amount of advertising allowed during children's programming (12 min/hr on weekdays and 9.5 min/hr on weekends)

2. clear separation between program content and commercial messages (no host selling)

3. clear delineation when a program is interrupted by a commercial

Children's Advertising Review Unit (CARU) of the National Council of Better Business Bureau's is established by the advertising industry to self-regulate advertising policies. The group was created in response to legislation to restrict or ban advertising to children.


ACT ad the Center for Science in the public interest (CSPI) file petitions to FTC to ban TV advertising of highly sugared products.


FTC formally proposes a rule that would ban or severely restrict all TV advertising to children. FTC presents a review of the scientific evidence and argues that all advertising directed to young children is inherently unfair and deceptive. The proposal provokes intense opposition from the broadcasting, advertising and food and toy industries and an aggressive campaign to oppose the ban based on First Amendment Protection.


In response to corporate pressure, Congress refuses to approve FTC's operating budget and passed legislation "FTC Improvements Act of 1980" which removes the agency's authority to restrict advertising. The Act prohibits any further action to adopt proposed children's advertising rules.


Deregulation of Television occurs during the Reagan administration. FCC deregulates all limits on the amount of advertising times, and the restriction on program-length commercials.


Children's advocacy and consumer groups pushed Congress t pass the Children's Television Act which directed the FCC to require educational programming for children and to limit the amount of commercial time during children's programming to 10.5 min/hr on weekends and 12 min/hr on weekdays. FCC reinstates the policy on program length commercials but redefines them.


In response to advocacy groups and an FTC report, Congress passes the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) that directs the FTC to develop rules restricting certain data collection practices and requiring parental permission for collection of personal information for children under 13 years of age.

Story and French International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity 2004 1:3   doi:10.1186/1479-5868-1-3

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