Nanny State

The Latest Peril for Kids: Lack of TV

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Efforts to protect innocent children in the U.K. from dangerous ads for high-sugar/fat foods have led to a drastic drop in the amount of funding available for high-quality kids' TV. Funding for kids' programs has fallen by £30 million ($61 million) since a ban made it illegal to advertise "unhealthy" food to children:

ITV responded [to the ban] by scrapping new commissions and long-running hits, including My Parents Are Aliens. Drama repeats have replaced children's programmes on ITV1 at teatime as the channel competes for ratings with [the more trashy] Channel 4.

Children now have to suffer through endless re-runs of Australian soaps and sappy dramas–thus avoiding the perils of junk food ads, but only at the cost of their "cognitive, linguistic, emotional and social development." So the government doesn't mind dimwit kids, as long as they're not fat.

The answer, of course, is legislation. Presenters of children's TV programs, and other such experts, want regulation to make sure broadcasters keep a minimum amount of kids' TV around. And some subsidies thrown in for fun.

NEXT: Virginia Speeding Fines Update

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  1. Channel 4 is less trashy than ITV1, not more.

  2. This central planning isn’t working! If only there was some kind of “invisible hand” mechanism that could sort this stuff out.

  3. Law of Unintended, What?

  4. Looking at the comments on the news article linked, we now know that Dan T’s real name is Eamon Pender.

  5. Law of Unintended, What?

    Law of Obviously Foreseeable Unintended Consequences

    It’s For The Children.

  6. Not nearly so bad as the fact as they are going to start taking DNA from people for a permanent record for infractions as minor as speeding over the in the UK.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/news/news.html?in_article_id=472515&in_page_id=1770&ct=5

  7. Now, I know that “do it for the children” is the #1 H&R in-joke, but I think the argument that children should be sheided from the free market to at least some extent is a good one.

    It’s been shown that children are much more influenced than adults by advertising (often they don’t even realize that the commercials are not part of the show) and simply do not have the experience or mental development to understand why certain foods are not good for them or that the toys being advertised don’t always do the things that are shown.

    Now, this is not to say that every “protect children” idea is a good one, but on principle I don’t see how any society can not take measures to sheld kids from marketers.

  8. Nope, not gonna bite. Wouldn’t be prudent.

  9. I think the argument that children should be sheided from the free market to at least some extent is a good one

    If only there was someone in the household, one that is tasked with raising the child properly and watching out for their best interest, and would also have control of any money the kid could spend. But alas, ’tis only a dream.

  10. What free market?

  11. “sheltered from the free market”?

    Sheltered from the ability to improve one’s lot through peaceful exchange of goods and services?

    Too funny, man, too funny.


  12. Sheltered from the ability to improve one’s lot through peaceful exchange of goods and services?

    Exactly. Children are not capable of understanding how to best use the free market to improve their lot in life. Remember, sometimes the peaceful exchange of goods and services makes a person’s life worse.

  13. If only there was someone in the household, one that is tasked with raising the child properly and watching out for their best interest, and would also have control of any money the kid could spend.

    Ooh…ummmmm…is the answer…DCS?

    BZZZT!

    Well, you can’t surely be suggesting we place the responsibility on parents, are you? How on earth can they know what’s good for their kids? They’re not even in government!

  14. I see your point Dan, but I think the “free market” can take care of this by itself.

    I would think that, even if you advertised sugar cereals and candy to children, they wouldn’t get it unless their parents bought it for them. If the parents didn’t buy it for them, the commercials would not be effective and the manufacturers of those products would no longer pay for advertisements that don’t turn a profit.

    But, of course, this is a major IF, which requires parents to actually look out for the welfare of their children.

    Children may not be as capable as adults of distinguishing between reality and fiction, but the degree to which adults fail to have a grasp on reality with respect to their children’s own health is very discouraging.

  15. Remember, sometimes the peaceful exchange of goods and services makes a person’s life worse.

    Only someone who thinks he knows better than everybody else could say something so breathtakingly condescending.

  16. Dan T’s remarks on this thread are thus far non-trollish. Those who wish to take him on should respond in like tone.

  17. Whatever happened to just sending the kids outside?

  18. Well Dan,

    I’m sure the wholesale violence needed to suppress peaceful exchanges intended to better one’s lot won’t harm children. After all only kooks think that violence is harmful to the development of a child. Lucky for us, liberals like you know better. 😉

  19. Only someone who thinks he knows better than everybody else could say something so breathtakingly condescending.

    Hardly, unless you’re saying that nobody in the history of commerce has ever voluntarily made a business transaction that ended up making their lives worse.

    I’m just saying that when you engage in free commerce, you have to be informed and careful or else you’ll make a bad decision.

  20. Well Dan,

    I’m sure the wholesale violence needed to suppress peaceful exchanges intended to better one’s lot won’t harm children. After all only kooks think that violence is harmful to the development of a child. Lucky for us, liberals like you know better. 😉

    Frankly, it’s unclear to me how restrictions on advertising toward children have led to “wholesale violence”. Or retail violence, even. 😉

  21. “you have to be informed and careful or else you’ll make a bad decision.”

    QFT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  22. Children are not capable of understanding how to best use the free market to improve their lot in life.

    Children also don’t have jobs, and bank accounts, and money to do more than buy the occasional Cadbury Flake.

  23. Obligatory Bender quote for Dan:

    “Have you ever considered turning off the TV, sitting down with your kids, and hitting them?”

  24. Dan T’s remarks on this thread are thus far non-trollish. Those who wish to take him on should respond in like tone.

    Oh really? And you think that Dan just threw that crack about “peaceful exchange of goods and services” out there because that “point” is in any way relevant to the discussion?

    I guess if you look down your noses at the respective choices people make, you could say that their lives are made “worse” because of what they choose to buy. But not to the buyer/seller…they are the only people who matter in the scenario.

  25. Children also don’t have jobs, and bank accounts, and money to do more than buy the occasional Cadbury Flake.

    That is true, generally, but at the same time the most important phases of mental and emotional development take place during early childhood. So I’d still argue that it makes sense to restrict the kind of messages that are communicated to children even if there is little danger of a three-year-old maxing out his credit card.

  26. That is true, generally, but at the same time the most important phases of mental and emotional development take place during early childhood. So I’d still argue that it makes sense to restrict the kind of messages that are communicated to children

    You’re right Dan.

    (god that hurt to say)

    But what you haven’t addressed is that is a parenting problem, not a “village” one.

  27. But what you haven’t addressed is that is a parenting problem, not a “village” one.

    That, I suppose, is a matter of opinion. And let’s not forget that it’s usually parents themselves that are asking for “village” help in this regard.

    I mean, I’ve never once heard a parent complain that there was not enough marketing aimed at their children.

  28. So I’d still argue that it makes sense to restrict the kind of messages that are communicated to children…

    You can always pick out the childess ones in a crowd by the nonsense they claim to know.

    I can tell you right now that children as VERY capable of message discrimination. They hear very little of what I say, but yet hang on every word of Spongebob.

    There is however, one message that they never have trouble hearing: NO.

    I can say that all day. I never get tired of saying it. Really.

  29. You can always pick out the childess ones in a crowd by the nonsense they claim to know.

    Apparently not!

    I can tell you right now that children as VERY capable of message discrimination. They hear very little of what I say, but yet hang on every word of Spongebob.

    Wait a second, you’re saying that kids are more willing to listen to a cartoon character instead of their parents? That’s my point exactly.

  30. Are there some very arbitrary criteria for determining which recipes for children’s foods make them advertisable and which not? How about for determining which shows are for children and which not?

  31. Wait a second, you’re saying that kids are more willing to listen to a cartoon character instead of their parents? That’s my point exactly.

    Except that children don’t have the means to buy all the crap commercials try to sell them. The parents do. They don’t have to listen to their parents, and they don’t have to like the decisions they hand down.
    Didn’t your parents ever deprive you of things you wanted? I remember wanting Lucky Charms and the like all the time, and my mom would only buy us grape nuts and plain shredded wheat. I hated it

  32. Wait a second, you’re saying that kids are more willing to listen to a cartoon character instead of their parents? That’s my point exactly.

    Wait, I could have sworn we turned off the tee-vee the other day and sent the kiddies outside. I have a strong memory of making a decision or two about what they can watch to begin with. I could also swear that they have no outside income sources whatsoever, nor any way to get to any place where commercial exchanges take place.

    Gosh Dan, who’s going to save them by what they *might* see on teh intertubes? Them’s scary ideas in there!

  33. Except that children don’t have the means to buy all the crap commercials try to sell them.

    They don’t, but there must be some reason that so much money is spent on advertising to them anyway, right?

    And like I said earlier, the ads are going to have some effect on kids’ development either way.

  34. DanT, are you the same Daniel T-something (sorry, can’t recall the last name) who was posting on the link I followed to Pandagon from a reason story yesterday?

    I dislike it when the a comment posted here is nothing more than an insult to you (or anyone). You get that a lot. Me, I try to just ignore your more contrarian posts, and the insults they draw, and appreciate it when you do bring up a good point. Echo chambers are dull. But the Daniel T-somethin’ on that Pandagon thread was just an ass to the libertarian poster who was playing nicely.

    If you really want to understand someone, observe them in their own home.

    If that was you, you are dead to me. Comments blocked, opinions ignored.

    If that was not you, I will be pleased.

  35. They don’t, but there must be some reason that so much money is spent on advertising to them anyway, right?

    And like I said earlier, the ads are going to have some effect on kids’ development either way.

    I agree that a lot of people are incredibly stupid. When I’m at the grocery store and i see this gigantic woman buying circus peanuts for her kids, I just want to grab the bag and slap her. But that’s just me.

    So much money is spent on this kind of advertising anyway because parents WILL buy this crap for their kids, no doubt about it.

    Heartless answer: If eating this crap really is that unhealthy, let their doctor tell them, and then let them see what their resulting incredibly huge health care bills are.

  36. Now, I know that “do it for the children” is the #1 H&R in-joke, but I think the argument that children should be sheided from the free market to at least some extent is a good one.

    Children ARE shielded from the free market… they don’t have jobs or money to buy anything. They aren’t able to go to the store on their own.

    Clearly, the sugar coated cereals are being purchased for kids by their parents. If parents aren’t able to look after their kids best interests, what makes you think that Big Brother is capable of doing the job?

    I watched Saturday morning cartoons when I was a kid, yet never had sugar coated cereals in the house. How come I wasn’t a victim of the nightmare laissez faire childrens marketing of the 1970s and early 80s? How come kids ate less sugar coated cereal back then, despite the fact that there was no restrictions on advertising?

    Why is obesity a problem now, in the most regulated time in history, when 30 years ago when childrens advertising was completly unregulated it wasn’t a problem?

    Clearly, the paranoid “think of the children” mentality that Dan T champions has more to do with promoting obesity than does advertisments. Why are you and England trying to make our children fat, Dan T?

  37. Dan T, there are better ways to parent and there are worse ways. I’m not a subjectivist who thinks it’s all the same. I just don’t believe it’s up to the state to dictate how parents raise their children.

  38. the ads are going to have some effect on kids’ development either way.

    Of course, you assume the development will be detrimental. Won’t it suck for you when the devlopment is one of when they learn not to believe a word that they hear in an ad and that they become very savvy consumers, once they have an income source other than me.

    C’mon Dan, you’re not even trying.

  39. They don’t, but there must be some reason that so much money is spent on advertising to them anyway, right?

    They are purchasing market share. The advertisments don’t make a kid any more likely to purchase sugary cereal, because kids are pretty much biologically programmed to like sweet stuff anyway. If given the choice by their parents, kids will choose sweets, advertisment or not.

    However, the ads encourage kids to buy brand X cereal instead of brand Y cereal. When mom tells the kid “pick out a cereal you want”, the kid chooses Pac-Man cereal over Mr. T cereal because he likes the commercials. Of course, if there was no advertisments whatsoever, the kid still isn’t going to pick branflakes.

  40. DanT, are you the same Daniel T-something (sorry, can’t recall the last name) who was posting on the link I followed to Pandagon from a reason story yesterday?

    I dislike it when the a comment posted here is nothing more than an insult to you (or anyone). You get that a lot. Me, I try to just ignore your more contrarian posts, and the insults they draw, and appreciate it when you do bring up a good point. Echo chambers are dull. But the Daniel T-somethin’ on that Pandagon thread was just an ass to the libertarian poster who was playing nicely.

    If you really want to understand someone, observe them in their own home.

    If that was you, you are dead to me. Comments blocked, opinions ignored.

    If that was not you, I will be pleased.

    I’ve posted under a few handles when “Dan T.” gets spoofed but I’ve never posted under “Daniel T” here or anywhere else.

  41. They are purchasing market share. The advertisments don’t make a kid any more likely to purchase sugary cereal, because kids are pretty much biologically programmed to like sweet stuff anyway. If given the choice by their parents, kids will choose sweets, advertisment or not.

    You’re right about market share, but I’m not sure I agree that kids are biologically inclined to want sugary cereal for breakfast. I doubt kids in the 1700’s were asking for it. 🙂

    I think advertising works on both levels – you want to create both a desire/need for your product and also convince consumers that your brand of product is superior to another brand.

  42. Dan T, there are better ways to parent and there are worse ways. I’m not a subjectivist who thinks it’s all the same. I just don’t believe it’s up to the state to dictate how parents raise their children.

    But in this case, the state is not dictating how parents should raise their children. They’re dictating how advertisers can market to children.

  43. The running theme on this blog regarding the phrase “for the children” is that it’s the sort of thing people say in lieu of any substantial, evidence based argument.

    Thank you, Dan for so concisely and repetitively proving that point. It seems that your strongest argument is that ads do in fact have some impact on what children want their parents to buy for them. From there, you leap to the conclusion that it’s therefore all right and even necessary to use violence to limit what media outlets are allowed to sell time on their stations for, and what those purchasing that time are allowed to do with it.

    There’s a huge, gaping, yawning chasm there, Danny, between your argument and your conclusion. The fact that you’ve made no attempt to bridge it is quite telling.

  44. And also, the state is in fact dictating how parents should raise their children. The state is saying that no parent shall be allowed to expose their child to specific forms of marketing. The other part of what you said is true, the state’s also dictating to advertisers what they can do, but to pretend that both forms of corecion aren’t present is simply silly.

  45. Matthew, my point is simply that because we recognize that children are not mentally equipped to understand what advertising is and how it affects them, we therefore have an interest in limited the advertisements that we expose them to.

    I’m often accused here of taking the most extreme libertarian viewpoint and addressing it as if it were commonplace. Now in my opinion, the idea that there should be absolutely no laws restricting the messages that can be directed towards children by adults is an extreme position and therefore I shouldn’t assume it’s one held by most self-identified libertarians.

    But yet, nobody here is willing to grant me that we have any social interest whatsoever in protecting kids from any sort of media. So what conclusion should I draw from this?

  46. Dan,
    I’m sure if you want, there are a lot of people in this country who would want to help you set up a non-profit aimed at this issue. The non-profit could educate parents through pamphlets, seminars, door-to-door campaigns, and TV and Radio spots about the negative implications of allowing their children unmonitored access to TV, and you don’t just mean programming. You can show them studies and horrifying stories of obese children. You can inform them of alternative activities in their areas that the children can do in place of watching TV. You can give them techniques for making healthier foods appeal more to children.
    In this way, you’d be making a difference right away with some portion of the population instead of spending all kinds of time trying to get enough people to badger a politician about it and trying to get bans or limits federally enacted.

  47. Dan,

    Your point is well taken, and I agree. We do have an interest in that. The leap that you’re making that isn’t substantiated is that coercive force and violence are the appropriate remedy. That’s the topic that you’re failing to address completely. Reinmoose said it well, just above me. Why do you want to use guns for this?


  48. But yet, nobody here is willing to grant me that we have any social interest whatsoever in protecting kids from any sort of media.

    I don’t have any interest, social or otherwise. They’re not my kids. You had ’em, you raise ’em. You want your sprogs protected from media? Have at. Every TV I’ve ever seen comes with a power switch. Don’t limit the choices of everyone else because of your paranoia. (I call it paranoia because you so far have shown no shred of data to suggest that whatever effect advertising has on the chilluns is uniformly negative.)

  49. Whatever happened to just sending the kids outside?

    When the snackstealer was getting hyper yesterday, I told him to put on his sneakers, and come out with me to the sidewalk. We went down to the end of the block, and then I told him to run the length of the block and back. Then again. Then again. Calmed him right down.

  50. Dan,

    Your point is well taken, and I agree. We do have an interest in that. The leap that you’re making that isn’t substantiated is that coercive force and violence are the appropriate remedy. That’s the topic that you’re failing to address completely. Reinmoose said it well, just above me. Why do you want to use guns for this?

    I’m not sure that violence, force, or guns was ever really advocated here. Believe it or not, the fear of being killed is not the main reason people comply with the law.

  51. Dan,
    I’m sure if you want, there are a lot of people in this country who would want to help you set up a non-profit aimed at this issue. The non-profit could educate parents through pamphlets, seminars, door-to-door campaigns, and TV and Radio spots about the negative implications of allowing their children unmonitored access to TV, and you don’t just mean programming. You can show them studies and horrifying stories of obese children. You can inform them of alternative activities in their areas that the children can do in place of watching TV. You can give them techniques for making healthier foods appeal more to children.
    In this way, you’d be making a difference right away with some portion of the population instead of spending all kinds of time trying to get enough people to badger a politician about it and trying to get bans or limits federally enacted.

    Well, that’s one way of going about it, and I’m sure that such organizations already exist. But it seems to me that using the government probably would be more effective.

  52. More pointless anecdotal evidence – I watched children’s television in the 70’s and 80’s. My parents taught me not to trust commercials and they refused to purchase sugary cereals. To this day I don’t eat sugary cereals, but I am overweight. Make of it what you will.

  53. This really isn’t so different from Tobacco and Alcohol advertising restrictions in place. The ‘sin’ segments used to be forced to ‘sponsor’ events instead of buying direct advertising (speaking of up here north of the 49th). When the laws chsnged that said “no more sponsorships”, we lost great Family Festivals, Fireworks shows, Car Races, events that these companies paid to keep going, and now suffer due to the lack of dollars flowing in. It’s a reality that sure some are affected by this – but I don’t remember picking up smoking because I attended the DuMaurier Jazz Festival or the Benson and Hedges Fireworks displays. Kids TV will survive and it will improve as the dollars adjust – but it is too bad if real quality programming is affected.

  54. Remember, sometimes invariably the lack of the ability to make peaceful exchanges of goods and services makes a person’s life worse.

    *insert link to Mugabe article above*

  55. Dan,

    You couldn’t be more wrong. The fear of reprisal, which always ultimately comes down to imprisonment and violence, is what the law is all about. Now, that fact doesn’t mean that laws are always the wrong way to handle a societal issue, but denying that reality is always wrong. I know it’s unpleasant to think of it that way, but dressing your intentions and means up in a more pleasant wrapper doesn’t change the basic facts. If you’re advocating a government solution to a problem, you are by definition advocating the use of violence and force. So again, why are guns the appropriate choice here?

    Your response to the other poster is telling and a bit scary. Clearly, playground bullies find that using violence is much more effective in getting what they want. Do you find that to be a convicing argument in favor of their actions? I hope you have more than that.

    Do tell.

  56. I mean, I’ve never once heard a parent complain that there was not enough marketing aimed at their children.

    There’s not enough free marketing, unfettered by governmental trolls who think they know better than me what I should buy for my children, aimed at my children to pay for the TV programs they watch.

    Close enough to what you asked for, Dan T.?

  57. But yet, nobody here is willing to grant me that we have any social interest whatsoever in protecting kids from any sort of media. So what conclusion should I draw from this?

    That you’re wrong? That you’re defending counterproductive intrusions by government that should replaced by parents making their own decisions about what their children should watch and what they should buy for their children?

  58. Dan,

    You couldn’t be more wrong. The fear of reprisal, which always ultimately comes down to imprisonment and violence, is what the law is all about. Now, that fact doesn’t mean that laws are always the wrong way to handle a societal issue, but denying that reality is always wrong. I know it’s unpleasant to think of it that way, but dressing your intentions and means up in a more pleasant wrapper doesn’t change the basic facts. If you’re advocating a government solution to a problem, you are by definition advocating the use of violence and force. So again, why are guns the appropriate choice here?

    Come on – is your view of human nature so cynical that you don’t think that people will at least sometimes voluntarily comply with a law that they disagree with out of a sense of duty or citizenship?

    Anyway, to me the question is a matter of balance between the rights of companies to engage in marketing and the interests of children to not be swamped with inappropriate adverstising. I guess your position is that the balance should swing entirely in favor of companies and I suppose that’s where we’ll have to agree to disagree.

  59. No, I do agree with you, there’s no question that people sometimes comply with laws out of a sense of duty or citizenship. But what of the people who don’t agree with the law? Those are the ones that I’m addressing. What makes them less important? Ultimately, the threat of violence is what forces compliance, whether it be 10% of the people or 90%. Laws are enforced by violence, whether you want to word it that way or not.

    The question you pose is valid, that’s an important consideration when looking at whether or not to pass a law. But prior to that, you have to justify the use of violence. If you can’t get past that question, you can’t even start considering the balancing act you bring up. And so far, all you’ve offered is that there will be some people that you won’t have to put in jail, and that it’s easier to achieve your goals with violence than without. Neither of those arguments are remotely compelling.

    Do you have anything more substantive?

  60. Okay, well I guess if you’re going to paint me in such a corner, I do justify the use of violence against people who refuse to follow the law.

  61. Dan, my boy, let me bottom line it for you: if your kid is going to be scarred for life off of a Cookie Crisp commercial, you have problems much bigger than kiddie adverts.

  62. As do I, Dan. That’s not the issue. The question is, what makes this issue one that justifies the use of violence and coercion. The fact that you have no justification for your opinion but still want to initiate the use of force is disturbing, and it’s even more disturbing that it’s not disturbing to you.

    Politics without principle leads to all sorts of unjust and awful outcomes. I don’t think you really want what you seem to think you want.

  63. Okay, well I guess if you’re going to paint me in such a corner, I do justify the use of violence against people who refuse to follow the law.

    Any law, Dan? Or just the laws based on prevention the initiation of force? Cause that’s the difference between libertarianism and authoritarianism.

    Do you advocate violence against people who want to sell sugary or fatty food to people who want to buy it, because that might lead to them being not as healthy as some zealots would have them be?

    Do you advocate violence against people who want, in the privacy of their own home, to consume (or smoke) certain vegetable products because others find that use immoral?

    Do you advocate violence against female entrepreneurs who are selling the only commodity they have in plenteous supply, to willing buyers, because others find that action immoral?

    Do you advocate violence against people who would like to marry more than one person, with the consent of all those other people, because other parties find that immoral?

    If you answer yes to any of the above, why fer Zeussake?

  64. I’ve posted under a few handles when “Dan T.” gets spoofed but I’ve never posted under “Daniel T” here or anywhere else.

    Awesome. I’m glad.

    You’re a contrarian, all right, but you do provide a framework for us to flesh our ideas on. And you seem to provide punching-bag therapy for those who need it. You’re just a glutton for punishment, I guess!

  65. Here is a revolutionary idea. Let free market be, I don’t know, free market. Let the advertisers fund any tv show they want, and make the parents take an active role in raising their children. If only there was a figure in the poor children’s lives that could tell them what is good for them and bad for them. Maybe the state should just outlaw any food that could possibly harm us. Maybe the state should make it so that we don’t need to worry about things like responsibility for our kids, our selves, or anything at all. We can just surrender ourselves body and soul to the all knowing all powerful state. If only there was some Brave New World where we didn’t have to make decisions or take responsibility that would be so much better. Yeah, communism doesn’t work. The nanny state just castrates the society. And personal responsibility is a good thing, even if it hurts people’s feelings.

  66. Circus peanuts have less energy than real peanuts, so keep your slapping hands away.

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