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The Broadcast Code for Advertising to Children - Guidelines and Procedures

These Guidelines and Procedures do not form part of the Children’s Code. They are intended to assist broadcasters, advertisers, advertising agencies and media placement services, particularly the creative, media and traffic departments, in adhering to the provisions as well as respecting the spirit and intent of the Children’s Code. Every effort should be made to ensure that persons involved in these functions are thoroughly familiar with the Children’s Code and these Guidelines and Procedures.

More detailed commercial message clearance procedures have been established by ASC and are subject to change from time to time. Information concerning these procedures can be found on ASC’s website.

Broadcasters, advertisers and agencies often enquire about the interpretation of certain clauses of the Children’s Code. In this regard, ASC, in cooperation with broadcasters, advertisers and the Children’s Clearance Committee, has instituted an ongoing process to establish accepted Children’s Code clause interpretations that are intended to serve as a guide for industry. Information concerning these interpretations can be found in The Children’s Broadcast Advertising Clearance Guide, available on ASC’s website.

  1. Program Classification
  2. Pre-Schoolers
  3. Program Promotions and Public Service Announcements
  4. Local Advertising
  5. Advertisers and Advertising Agencies
  6. Scheduling
  7. Clearance Procedures - Advertising Standards Canada

1. Program Classification

The program and production departments of the station or network know the primary audience they are trying to reach with each program. Viewer enquiries about program classification may be directed to the individual station or the network. As with any commercial message, the ultimate responsibility for acceptance of a child-directed commercial message remains with the individual broadcasting station. A station may for its own reasons decline to air a commercial message which carries an ASC Children’s Clearance Number.

The CBC does not accept commercial messages of any kind in programs it determines are directed to persons under 12 years of age. Advertising directed to children is acceptable on a limited basis (maximum two minutes per clock half hour/four minutes per clock hour) in programs designated by the CBC as having an overall family/adult audience appeal.

2. Pre-Schoolers

Children of pre-school age are often unable to distinguish between program content and advertisements. Therefore, any commercial message scheduled for viewing during the school-day morning hours should be directed to the family, parent or an adult, rather than to children, and should have the requisite ASC clearance number if appearing in or adjacent to a child-directed program.

3. Program Promotions and Public Service Announcements

Although the Children’s Code does not apply to unpaid public service announcements or to program promotions, stations are urged to respect the spirit of the Children’s Code when scheduling such announcements and promotions.

4. Local Advertising

Local advertising refers to those commercial messages that appear in one market only. Although pre-clearance is not mandatory for commercial messages that are purely local, stations are responsible for ensuring that local advertising directed to children or that appears in children's programs conforms to the provisions of the Children’s Code.

5. Advertisers and Advertising Agencies

(a) ASC will review scripts and storyboards on a consultative basis, but an approval number will be assigned only after the Children's Clearance Committee has reviewed a finished commercial.

(b) When tag lines will be used by a local announcer, they should be submitted with the main commercial message.

(c) Sometimes the exigencies of broadcast timing and production call for last-minute, in-studio script changes. It is therefore important that all those involved in production be familiar with the Children’s Code.

(d) Children's Clearance Committee meetings are scheduled every other week to review finished commercials, except from September through November, when meetings are generally held weekly. Review of commercial messages may also be provided between scheduled meetings.

6. Scheduling

Broadcasters and advertisers should, to the best of their ability, continue to implement the established industry practice and refrain from scheduling children's advertising featuring known characters and their related products in or adjacent to programs in which the same characters appear. It is understood that there may be occasions where this kind of scheduling cannot be avoided.

7. Clearance Procedures - Advertising Standards Canada

All children's advertising, except that which is purely local, must receive approval from the Children's Clearance Committee prior to broadcast. Approved children’s advertising must carry an ASC Children’s Clearance Number (e.g. ASC012345), which should appear on the traffic instructions. Broadcasters will not accept children's advertising that does not carry such a number.

All ASC children’s clearance numbers are valid for one year from date of issue. Commercial messages may be submitted to the Children’s Advertising Section for number renewal upon expiry. The statements and claims contained in the commercial will be re-evaluated to ensure they remain accurate and consistent with the provisions of the Children’s Code. Broadcasters will not accept commercial messages with an expired children’s clearance number.

Submission procedures can be found on ASC's Website (www.adstandards.com), or requested from ASC.

Children's Advertising Section
Advertising Standards Canada
175 Bloor Street East
South Tower, Suite 1801
Toronto, Ontario
M4W 3R8
www.adstandards.com/clearance
clearance@adstandards.com