Thursday 18 January 2018

Jack Chambers slams RTÉ over decision to allow McDonald’s sponsor the Big Big Movie

New Fianna Fáil TD Jack Chambers has criticised RTE
New Fianna Fáil TD Jack Chambers has criticised RTE

Jane O'Faherty

Fianna Fáil TD Jack Chambers hit out at RTÉ over their decision to allow McDonald’s to sponsor the channel’s Big Big Movie.

The flagship programme, a traditional favourite for families after the Six One News each Saturday, is now supported by the fast food giant.

Mr Chambers claimed that the national broadcaster could be in breach of its standards, adding that the sponsorship could encourage unhealthy eating habits among children.

“It is remarkable that RTÉ are allowing McDonalds to sponsor this slot, despite the ban on high fat salt and sugar foods during children’s programming,” he said.

“RTÉ are potentially infringing the Codes of Standards for Advertising, Promotional and Direct Marketing in Ireland, by allowing the advertising of junk food during the Big Big Movie,” he added.

“As their own website details, this programme slot has a quarter of a million viewers which include a 31% average share of viewing for kids,” he said. “Sponsorship can reach 85% of households with children.

"Evidence is clear, that the advertising of junk food adversely influences children’s preferences and heavily contributes to childhood obesity,” he continued.

“Our national broadcaster should therefore be doing more to protect Irish children from any exposure to the advertising of unhealthy food.”

"RTÉ's clear breach of public responsibility underscores the need for a blanket ban on advertising of junk food during the watershed hours (6am to 9pm).”

A spokesman for RTÉ said it was fully compliant with BAI broadcasting codes, adding that the Big Movie slot “is scheduled for family viewing on a Saturday evening when children can enjoy a popular movie in the company of parents or guardians.” 

“As a dual-funded organisation, RTÉ is legally required to supplement the licence fee by raising commercial income to enable it to deliver services to the public,” he added.

“This income contributes towards the production of programming such as Operation Transformation and Ireland’s Fittest Family which encourage active and healthy lifestyles in Irish families.”

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