ASC Clearance Services
ASC Clearance Logo Ask An Analyst Banner
ASC Corporate Logo
Skip Navigation Links
eClearance Login  |  Contact Us  |  Français

The Broadcast Code for Advertising to Children - Background

The Broadcast Code for Advertising to Children (Children’s Code) is designed to complement the general principles for ethical advertising outlined in the Canadian Code of Advertising Standards, which applies to all advertising. Both codes are published and administered by Advertising Standards Canada (ASC). These codes are supplementary to all federal and provincial laws and regulations governing advertising, including those regulations and procedures established by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), Industry Canada, and Health Canada.

The purpose of the Children’s Code is to guide advertisers and agencies in preparing commercial messages that adequately recognize the special characteristics of the children's audience. Children, especially the very young, live in a world that is part imaginary, part real and sometimes do not distinguish clearly between the two. Children's advertising should respect and not abuse the power of the child's imagination.

Discretion and sensitivity will be exercised by the Children's Clearance Committee when reviewing children's advertising, particularly with reference to equitable portrayal and violence consistent with the principles of industry broadcast self regulatory codes such as those endorsed by ASC, the Canadian Association of Broadcasters (CAB), and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC).

The foregoing does not imply a call for the elimination of fantasy in children's advertising. Many childhood possessions become particularly meaningful as they are incorporated into the child's fantasy world, and it is natural and appropriate to communicate with this audience in their own terms. But such presentations should not stimulate unreasonable expectations of product or premium performance.

Imitation and exploration have always been part of the child's learning process and the broadcast media now form part of that experience. It is recognized, of course, that it remains the primary responsibility of parents "to instruct a child in the way that he/she should go." The Children’s Code and the Interpretation Guidelines that are issued from time to time are designed to help advertisers avoid making that task more difficult.

Canadian broadcasters have agreed to adhere to the Children’s Code as a condition of CRTC licensure.