Ethical Analysis of Sweden's Push to Ban Advertising to Children

Essay by Jessica DaileyUniversity, Bachelor'sA+, February 2008

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The article, “Sweden Pushes Its Ban on Children's Ads” by Brandon Mitchener describes the conflict that occurred in Europe in 2001 between advertisers and the European Union leadership. Ethical standards are part of every facet of life. Throughout life, every individual develops his own personal ethics, and brings those beliefs into the organizations to which they belong. Individual ethical standards help create the ground rules of businesses and ethical behaviors of governments. The government of Sweden adopted a policy that business should not direct advertising toward young children. Advertisers were banned from promoting products directly to children on television. In addition, the government is encouraging other European Union leaders to accept their standards. Consequently conflict has erupted with promoters of children’s products throughout Europe.

Ground rulesSweden is working with research and statistics they believe to be true and factual, that indeed children under 10 cannot distinguish advertising from programming. The Swedish government has lobbied other European Union (EU) countries to follow their lead and raise the standard for children’s broadcasting.

Their presidency role in the EU was used to lobby other EU countries to work towards their belief that children cannot discern advertising from programming. The presidency role of the EU is a powerful position, however limited in duration to six months. Sweden pushed hard and lobbied for severe restrictions on advertising, to limited success, as other EU countries have imposed limitations on advertising. This push is in direct contrast and opposition from broadcasters, who believe that quality children’s programming can only be achieved through advertising revenue generated from advertising children’s products (Mitchener, 2001, para. 10).

Ethics theoriesDuty and rights-based ethics are demonstrated through Sweden’s enactment of legislation banning advertising during children’s programming. Sweden believes that it to be their right and duty to protect children under the age of...