ABC Finds New Online Predators: Snap, Crackle, & Pop

Over at the MRC's BusinessandMedia.org today I wrote about ABC's Lisa Stark picking up a Kaiser Fmily Foundation study of how food companies mix advertisements in with kid-friendly online games as marketing gimmicks on their Web sites.

Here's a taste:

...rather
than presenting the development as a safer Internet pastime for
children then chatting with complete strangers or looking up
pornographic Web sites, Stark suggested the advertising development is
a danger to children that needs to be regulated.

"On
television, there are regulations on marketing to kids, a limit on the
amount of ad time on a children’s show for example, but online, it’s
wide open,” complained Stark, who went on to conclude her story
lamenting the trend was “only likely to get worse.”

To bolster
her complaint, Stark trotted out Yale School of Health’s Dr. David Katz
to gripe that cereal Web sites are “the Wild West of food advertising
for children” with “no rules out there” to control content.

Yet Stark’s expert is no dispassionate medical professional. The Yale doctor signed a petition circulated by the left-wing Center for a Commercial Free Childhood
that attacked “purveyors of junk food” for using “public schools as a
platform for their marketing campaigns” to “corral a captive audience
of impressionable children.”

Simply put,
Katz attacked food companies for the “epidemic” of fat kids, a
decidedly liberal point of view that Stark failed to mention.

Stark gave a few seconds to Nancy Daigler of Kraft Foods (NYSE: KFT) to defend her company’s practices, only to quickly dismiss her out of hand.

“We think it
is possible to be a responsible marketer and to provide some fun online
for kids,” Daigler told ABC, before Stark rebutted.

“Parents
don’t buy it,” Stark insisted, presenting mother Susan Wertheim as a
spokeswoman for parents everywhere. “Who needs one more place, one more
front that you have to tell your kid no, I didn’t really want you to
have Lucky Charms for breakfast today,” Wertheim complained.

Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd is a writer living in New Carrollton, Md.