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Posted by on Aug 10, 2010 in Korean Culture | 1 comment

South Korea limits TV ads on junk food

South Korea limits TV ads on junk food

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South Korea “just says no” to junk food advertisements, but at what cost? Photo courtesy of sxc.hu

The Telegraph UK newspaper (via Agent France Presse) reported in January 2010 that South Korea’s Health Ministry banned television ads for “junk foods” during prime-time hours (5 to 7 p.m.) as well as during children programs regardless of the time of day the show is aired.

The food nannies hailed this move. For example, the blog NaturalNews.com wrote this headline, “South Korea does what the US refuses to do: Restrict junk food advertising to children.”

I’d humbly submit to you there’s a reason that the United States has so far refused to enact this type of legislation: we have something called the First Amendment:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances. (emphasis added)

Since when did our society allow TV sets to become the dictators of the home, trumping the will of the adults who actually pay the mortgage and electric bill? Why is it the government’s business to do the job that parents won’t do and turn off the TV or “just say no”?

I was raised by grandparents who did not allow the mass media to dictate what foods came into their kitchen and into my mouth. I have many friends who are parents of young children and control their children’s exposure to the mass media and don’t allow it to control them or their food choices.

Why would we willingly subject other people’s freedom of speech to popular vote and restrict it by fiat with the lame excuse of “but it’s for the sake of the children”?

It’s as if a century of communications research into the influence of mass media were in vain. The “magic bullet” and “hypodermic needle” theories of communication, which posited a direct connection between media message and recipient behavior, held sway for the first half of the 1900s, until they were found to be inadequate in explaining unpersuasive mass-media campaigns. That led to the two-step  and multi-step flow theories of communication, in which the message goes directly to opinion leaders who influence behavior of their followers or indirectly via followers who seek an opinion on a received message.

Such “diffusion of innovation,” as it’s called, is the engine of virtual and actual social networks and the motivator for advertisers and marketers work like mad to influence the influencers, a.k.a. “early adopters,” “early majority,” etc.

That brings us back to parents, who should be key opinion leaders for their children. If parents were, children would learn how to discern information from manipulation.

1 Comment

  1. That is good. I still love the ocassional junk good but kids should not be

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