TARGETED BY ANTI-OBESITY GROUP
Partnership With Viacom's Nickelodeon
By Ira Teinowitz
AdAge.Com, November 9, 2005
WASHINGTON (AdAge.com) --
President Bill Clinton’s partnership with
Nickelodeon in a childhood-obesity initiative
he formed with the American Heart Association
is drawing fire from a consumer group that
views the Viacom network as a culprit.
Challenging FCC rule
The Campaign for a Commercial-Free
Childhood is upset with the Clinton Foundation
for linking with the children's network.
Parent Viacom is challenging a Federal
Communications Commission rule that seeks to
limit marketing to children. The group, a
coalition of health-care professionals,
advocacy groups and parents headed by Harvard
psychologist Susan Linn, cites its “grave
concern” in a letter sent to the former
president today, calling on him to reconsider
allowing Nickelodeon into the “Alliance for a
Healthier Generation” partnership.
Instead, the group is asking Mr. Clinton to
use his influence to get Viacom to stop
fighting the proposed rule. Ms. Linn in the
letter also points out that another critic of
TV ads aimed at children is another Clinton,
the president’s wife, Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y.
“Although childhood obesity is a major
public-health problem, Nickelodeon threatens
public health and the public interest by
consistently using its media to market junk
food to children and by undermining policies
established to protect children from predatory
marketing,” said the letter, signed by Ms.
Linn and Alvin F. Poussaint, a Harvard
Targeting children directly
“If Viacom is successful in this legal
challenge, it will be even easier than it is
today for food marketers to use media to
bypass parents and target children directly
with ads for unhealthy food,” said the letter.
The letter goes on to say that the FCC's
proposed rule “will ensure that programs
broadcast for children will not show unlimited
advertisements of commercial Web sites and
will prohibit the advertisement on television
of Web sites ... on which popular characters
from the very same children’s programs pitch
Ms. Linn said in an interview that she
believes Nickelodeon is using the alliance to
promote a positive image it doesn’t deserve.
“It is outrageous what [Mr. Clinton] is doing
on behalf of Nickelodeon because it is
hypocritical of Nickelodeon to be claiming to
form an alliance to prevent obesity, when
[Nickelodeon] is one of the prime promoters”
of unhealthy food advertising, she said. “Dora
the Explorer and SpongeBob have become
characters to promote junk food.”
Jay Carson, a spokesman for Mr. Clinton,
said, “President Clinton is fully committed to
do everything he can do to turn around the
epidemic of childhood obesity in America,” but
declined to go beyond that in describing Mr.
Clinton’s reaction to the letter.
A spokesman for Nickelodeon didn’t return
multiple calls for comment.
Ms. Linn said her group hasn’t written the
American Heart Association, which is another
partner in the endeavor.
“We’re focusing on [President] Clinton because
this is about policy. He is in such a powerful
position to influence policy and is in a
better position than the American Heart
Association to use his partnership with
Nickelodeon to influence their actions.
Obviously, the American Heart Association
should withdraw as well, but it’s Clinton’s
involvement that seems newsworthy and that’s
what Nickelodeon is primarily pushing because
it makes this campaign unique.”
This article is copyrighted material, the use of
which has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We
are making such material available in our efforts to advance
understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic,
democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this
constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided
for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17
U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without
profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the
included information for research and educational purposes. For more
information go to:
you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your
own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the