Nickelodeon to restrict character promotion of treats

by Staff
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WASHINGTON — Nickelodeon has decided to restrict the use of licensed characters on the packaging of unhealthy foods — a decision that will become effective in January 2009.

However, Nickelodeon will continue to allow licensed characters be marketed with junk foods in connection with special occasions such as birthdays and holidays.

U.S. Representative Edward Markey, chairman of the House Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet, announced the decision after Cyma Zarghami, president of Nickelodeon Television, sent him a letter stating the network’s intentions.

The network will limit its character promotion to products that meet certain requirements established by marketing partners and in accordance with governmental dietary recommendations.

In June, Mr. Markey chaired a hearing called "Images Kids See on the Screen" in an effort to call attention to the impact of junk food marketing on children. In addition, the announcement of Nickelodeon’s efforts comes two days after Discovery Kids announced it would stop licensing its name and characters for use with unhealthy food and beverages.

"In my view, limits on the amount of junk food advertising seen on children’s television, along with strong nutrition standards for food and beverage products advertised and utilized with license characters for such children’s TV shows, will help address childhood obesity in a positive way," Mr. Markey said. "I look forward to reviewing the details and implementation of the additional marketing pledges regarding licensed characters Nickelodeon is making today."

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