Date: 29 Mar 2012 | posted in: From the Desk of David Morris, The Public Good | 0 Facebooktwitterredditmail

In 2002 Google Answers responded to a question about the number of ads that Americans are exposed to each day, from radio and tv commercials to newspaper ads and billboards. The sources sited ranged from 247 to 3000. No estimate was made of internet popup or other ads, which would boost the number stratospherically.

Except for banning or limiting tobacco advertising, the United States has essentially given media corporations carte blanche in the amount of advertising they carry. This is less true in other countries.  European regulations adopted in 2008 allow for commercial breaks only every 30 minutes in TV films and news programs. Commercial breaks will not be allowed at all in children’s programs that do not run more than 30 minutes long. The maximum of amount of advertising permitted cannot exceed 12 minutes an hour.

In the United States there have been efforts to limit the amount and kinds and places of advertising to children.

According to Consumer Reports magazine, “young children have difficulty distinguishing between advertising and reality in ads, and ads can distort their view of the world.”  Research has shown that children between the ages of two and five cannot differentiate between regular TV programming and commercials. Young children are especially vulnerable to misleading advertising and don’t begin to understand that advertisements are not always true until they’re eight. The vast majority of food advertising on children tv programs is for fast foods, soft drinks, candy and pre-sweetened cereals. Schools have begun to allow ads in the school building itself and even in the classroom, via textbook ads.

Some states have enacted legislation to control where ads can be placed, especially when children are the targets.


David Morris
Follow David Morris:
David Morris

David Morris is co-founder of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance and currently ILSR's distinguished fellow. His five non-fiction books range from an analysis of Chilean development to the future of electric power to the transformation of cities and neighborhoods.  For 14 years he was a regular columnist for the Saint Paul Pioneer Press. His essays on public policy have appeared in the New York TimesWall Street Journal, Washington PostSalonAlternetCommon Dreams, and the Huffington Post.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *