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Public lukewarm on restricting marketing to children

LONDON - The zeal with which politicians are driving the push to tackle the commercialisation of children is not matched by the public, although both groups agree on the scale of the problem, according to research.

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The two groups -- 83% of the public and 94% of MPs -- agreed that children and young people in the UK have too many commercial pressures put on them.

However, opinion diverged when asked about the statement: "Instead of limiting certain types of promotional activity, the focus should be on improving the media, and giving guidance to parents and children."

While 75% of adults agreed, only 43% of MPs agreed. However, this cross-party grouping concealed differences between Conservatives and Labour -- 61% of the former agreed compared to 39% of the latter.

Concern about mobile and internet technology exposing children to inappropriate material was high, with 84% of the public and 86% of MPs agreeing more should be done to combat this.

The research was commissioned by PR agency Ketchum, which used it to feed a debate it hosted yesterday on the commercialisation of children. A Ketchum spokeswoman said the agency has a number of clients interested in the issues, but declined to identify them.

The debating panel included shadow children's minister Tim Loughton, the Advertising Association's director of public affairs Sue Eustace and Radio 4 presenter Liz Barclay.

According to the agency, parents were singled out for criticism during the debate. There was general agreement they aren't doing enough to educate or advise their own children, but it was recommended that parents receive more help to enable them to take control of the situation.

The issue of commercialisation of children is currently on the government's agenda. In April it tasked a 10-strong panel to deliver a report assessing the impact of the commercial world on children's wellbeing, expected in early 2009.

The research was conducted by ComRes, which surveyed a representative cross-section of 150 MPs in June and a random sample of 1,002 British adults in late July.


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