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The Regulation of Children's Advertising in the US

Catharine M. Curran (Department of Marketing and Management, College of Business, Creighton University, 6500 California Plaza, Omaha, NE 68138, USA.)
Jef I. Richards (Department of Advertising, College of Communications, University of Texas at Austin, CMA 7.142, Austin, TX 78712, USA.)

International Journal of Advertising and Marketing to Children

ISSN: 1464-6676

Article publication date: 1 March 2000



Over the past 30 years the United States has grappled with the regulation of children's advertising in various media. The same debate that occurred in the 1970's in the US over banning children's advertising is heating up in the EU today. As with other regulatory issues the regulation of children's advertising involves trade‐offs. In the US, the First Amendment rights of the advertisers must be balanced with the government interest in protecting children. The regulation of children's advertising also involves balancing the competing interests of advocacy groups, legislators, broadcasters and advertisers. Advocacy groups have been very effective in focusing public attention on the issues of children's advertising. One of the most vocal and impactful groups was Action for Children's Television (ACT), whose efforts culminated in the passage of the 1990 Children's Television Act. Once that was accomplished, ACT was disbanded. In more recent years, however, the Centre for Media Education (CME) has replaced ACT in calling for regulation of children's advertising. CME was instrumental in pushing the 1996 FTC investigation related to 900 telephone numbers directed at children, and is now behind the Child Online Protection Act (COPA). The same questions raised nearly 30 years ago by ACT are now being cast in the US in terms of the Internet, otherwise little has changed. Each new innovation in media and technology ushers similar questions to the table, and the same balancing act must again be employed to answer the basic question: how far do we go to protect our children? The US's answer to this question offers insights for other countries seeking answers to similar questions.



Curran, C.M. and Richards, J.I. (2000), "The Regulation of Children's Advertising in the US", International Journal of Advertising and Marketing to Children, Vol. 2 No. 2, pp. 139-154.




Copyright © 2000, MCB UP Limited

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