Commercial TV engages with European viewers to fight for a healthier lifestyle

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Brussels, 9 September 2010 –When presenting today the second Brochure entitled “A Healthy Audience” to the EU Commission, the Association of Commercial Television in Europe (ACT – has shown that the commercial television industry can play a role in improving the health of European citizens.

In its brochure, the ACT has set out the results of monitoring programmes related to a healthier lifestyle in ten European markets during a period of 12 months1. In each of these countries, television programming about diet and physical activity is increasingly popular with European viewers. With the overview the ACT responds to a commitment of the Commission’s “Platform on Diet, Physical Activity and Health”, which the ACT is a member of.

Ross Biggam, Director General ACT, said: “All programmes we have shown in the brochure have one characteristic in common: people are interested in them, often they actively participate in them and they like to watch them. By showing these programmes and engaging with viewers, television can thus contribute to a healthier lifestyle of European citizens.”

In its 2010 brochure the ACT did not only look at more markets and programmes than last year, commercial broadcasters also asked other stakeholders in the debate, including governments for their option. In this context the French Chef Cyril Lignac has been interviewed and a report about BSkyB´s successful cooperation with the British Cycling organisation has been included. Furthermore, the German Secretary of State Julia Klöckner has commented on the cooperation between broadcasters and the German Government to promote a healthy lifestyle among kids. In terms of programmes, cookery shows are of great interest to viewers in basically all markets, in particular in countries like France, Italy or Spain. Contest-style formats like “The Biggest Loser” are so successful that they are shown in several markets and travel throughout Europe, being adapted to local needs. Finally, programmes including medical advice or targeting a special audience like children or women are very successful as well as short episodes explaining how to adopt a healthier lifestyle.

The brochure gives detailed information about the programmes and contains information about the audience share, target group, length and number of episodes as well as the transmission day and time. With audience shares of more than 40% and millions of viewers tuning in, it becomes clear that TV is a medium which has the strength to attract wide audiences and reach masses even on rather sensitive issues such as obesity and healthy living.

Heiko Zysk, Chair of the ACT Advertising Working Group & Deputy Director Government Relations & Regulatory Affairs ProSiebenSat.1 Group, commented: “We can contribute more effectively to the debate at European level by giving examples of our channels´ programming rather than discussing yet again the reasons why there should not be any further bans on advertising. Bans are counter-productive. By contrast, engaging with our viewers, listening to what they want and ask for, and delivering such content in an entertaining and informative way – that is what we do on a daily basis in a variety of European markets – allows campaigners for a healthier lifestyle to positively harness the power of television“.

To view the full text of the ACT Healthy Brochure 2010, please click on the ACT website.

1 The markets include Belgium, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Romania, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.