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Quebec Regulations On Advertising to Children
Courtesy of Le Conseil des normes de la publicité
Phone: (514) 931-8060
Fax: (514) 931-2797


Consumer Protection Act - Quebec
(Sections related to advertising intended for children
under 13 years of age)

248. Subject to what is provided in the regulations, no person may make use of commercial advertising directed at persons under thirteen years of age.

249. To determine whether or not an advertisement is directed at persons under thirteen years of age, account must be taken of the context of its presentation, and in particular of

(a)

the nature and intended purpose of the goods advertised;

(b)

the manner of presenting such advertisement;

(c)

the time and place it is shown.

The fact that such advertisement may be contained in printed matter intended for persons thirteen years of age and for persons thirteen years of age and over, or that it may be broadcast during air time intended for persons thirteen years of age and over or intended both for persons under thirteen years of age and for persons thirteen years of age and over does not create a presumption that it is not directed at persons under thirteen years of age.

 

DIVISION II

ADVERTISING DIRECTED AT CHILDREN

87. For the purposes of this Division, the word "child" means a person under 13 years of age.

88. An advertisement directed at children is exempt from the application of section 248 of the Act, under the following conditions:

(a)

it must appear in a magazine or insert directed at children;

(b)

the magazine or insert must be for sale or inserted in a publication which is for sale;

(c)

the magazine or insert must be published at intervals of not more than 3 months; and

(d)

the advertisement must meet the requirements of section 91.

89. An advertisement directed at children is exempted from the application of section 248 of the Act if its purpose is to announce a programme or show directed at them, provided that advertisement is in conformity with the requirements of section 91.

90. An advertisement directed at children is exempt from the application of section 248 of the Act, if it is constituted by a store window, a display, a container, a wrapping or a label or if it appears therein, provided that the requirements of paragraphs a to g, j, k o and p of section 91 are met.

91. For the purposes of applying sections 88, 89 and 90, an advertisement directed at children may not:

(a)

exaggerate the nature, characteristics, performance or duration of goods or services;

(b)

minimize the degree of skill, strength or dexterity or the age necessary to use goods or services;

(c)

use a superlative to describe the characteristics of goods or services or a diminutive to indicate its cost;

(d)

use a comparative or establish a comparison with the goods or services advertised;

(e)

directly incite a child to buy or to urge another person to buy goods or services or to seek information about it;

(f)

portray reprehensible social or family lifestyles;

(g)

advertise goods or services that, because of their nature, quality or ordinary use, should not be used by children;

(h)

advertise a drug or patent medicine;

(i)

advertise a vitamin in liquid, powdered or tablet form;

(j)

portray a person acting in an imprudent manner;

(k)

portray goods or services in a way that suggests an improper or dangerous use thereof;

(l)

portray a person or character known to children to promote goods or services, except:

i.

in the case of an artist, actor or professional announcer who does not appear in a publication or programme directed at children;

ii.

in the case provided for in section 89 where he is illustrated as a participant in a show directed at children.

For the purposes of this paragraph, a character created expressly to advertise goods or services is not considered a character known to children if it is used for advertising alone;

(m)

use an animated cartoon process except to advertise a cartoon show directed at children;

(n)

use a comic strip except to advertise a comic book direct at children;

(o)

suggest that owning or using a product will develop in a child a physical, social or psychological advantage over other children of his age, or that being without the product will have the opposite effect;

(p)

advertise goods in a manner misleading a child into think that, for the regular price of those goods, he can obtain goods other than those advertised.

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APPLICATION GUIDE FOR SECTIONS 248 AND 249 OF THE QUEBEC CONSUMER PROTECTION ACT (ADVERTISING INTENDED FOR CHILDREN UNDER 13 YEARS OF AGE)

The following is based on the Application Guide issued by the Quebec 'Office de la protection du consommateur'

INTRODUCTION

The Consumer Protection Act came into force on April 30, 1980. As of that date, all commercial advertising intended for persons under 13 years of age is prohibited under sections 248 and 249 of the Act, although the Regulations allow for certain exceptions to this rule (see sections 80-82 of the regs).

Since the terms of the law can lead to different interpretations, some discretion in application is allowed. This discretion is evident, for instance, in the determination of precisely what is meant by 'intended for children'. Therefore, the Office has issued the standards (set out on the following pages) that it will use to determine whether or not a given advertisement is permitted under the Act. The standards are merely a guide; each case will still be judged on its own merits.

Advertisers may request the Committee (detailed on page 2099) to assess an ad according to the criteria laid down in this Guide. The Committee will then give an opinion as to whether the ad is in keeping with the Act and Regulations. Opinions expressed are only valid for the specific advertising plans submitted and cannot be invoked as a precedent in the submission of any other ad. The Committee has agreed that it will not change or withdraw any opinion it has expressed on an ad for a period of one year, unless it is compelled to change its standards in the light of a court interpretation.

DEFINITIONS

'Treatment Whose Design Appeals Particularly to the Instinctual Needs of Children so as to Arouse Their Interest' - this type of treatment is judged not only on the literal presentation but by the general impression it creates. Such treatment relies on procedures which, although not exclusively confined to advertising directed at children, are nonetheless generally recognized as arousing children's interest. Particular attention will be given to the following:

1.

the use of themes relating to fantasy, magic, mystery, suspense or adventure.

2.

the use of persons with whom a child can identify: the undue use of children, the use of children's voices, of heroes, of imaginary or fanciful creatures, and of animals.

3.

any particularly emphatic use of the parent-child relationship or of any other relationship involving dependence upon an adult (i.e. a teacher), resulting in an undue exploitation of these bonds.

4.

the use of animated cartoons.

5.

the use of music which appeals particularly to children.

6.

at the technical level, the use of such methods as spectacular sound and colour, fast cutting, animation and repetition.

Although the verbal content of a message may be directed at adults, this does not create a presumption that it is not directed at persons under 13 years of age, if the visual content appeals particularly to the instinctual needs of children so as to arouse their interest.

'Children's Programs' are programs directed at children under 12 years of age: these include the programs so designated by the broadcasters as well as those which by their nature, content and time of programming, are obviously directed at this audience. These programs include the time periods immediately preceding and immediately following, which are not part of the preceding or following programs.

'Percentages' - the percentages pertaining to the proportion of viewers aged 2 to 11, and to which this guide refers, are based on the Bureau of Broadcast Measurement (B.B.M.) figures. For network broadcasting, the Montreal region survey under the 'full coverage' listing serves as a reference for the whole of Quebec. For regional broadcasting, the B.B.M. survey of the region applies.

Percentages are those for the same program aired during the same preceding season. When a schedule is changed from one season to the next, or a new program is scheduled, the broadcaster will be deemed to have shown reasonable diligence for the first season of this program if, using the criteria below, he could reasonably foresee that the program would not be viewed by an audience in which the percentage of viewers aged 2 to 11 years represented 15 percent or more of the total, or 5 percent or more of that audience, depending on the situation. These criteria are: 1) the type of program, 2) the time of broadcasting, 3) competition from other programs at the same time, and 4) the data on viewing levels given later in the Guide under its own heading.

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COMMERCIAL ADVERTISING

1. Products and Services Intended Exclusively for Children - this category mainly includes toys and certain sweets or foods enjoyed almost exclusively by children and which have a marked appeal for them. Given the nature of these products, the principles which follow must be strictly applied.

According to the treatment, the advertisement may be broadcast as follows:

1.1 Children's Programs - these products and services may not, for all practical purposes, be advertised during children's programs (unless the message is presented so that it cannot, in any way, arouse a child's interest.)

1.2 All Programs Except Those for Children - in order to be acceptable in programs other than those intended for children, these messages must not be directed at persons under 13 years of age; nor may they be presented so as to appeal particularly to the instinctual needs of children so as to arouse interest. This does not exclude a restrained association of the child with the product or service.

Particular attention must be given to the restrained nature of the message and a realistic and objective representation of the product's characteristics and performance.

1.3 Programs Whose Percentage of Child Viewers is Less than 15 Percent - Advertisements aimed partly at adults and partly at children (for example, messages whose verbal content is truly addressed to the adults but whose visual presentation, in whole or in part, appeals particularly to the instinctual needs of children so as to arouse their interest) may not be broadcast except in programs whose percentage of viewers aged 2 to 11 represents less than 15 percent of the total viewing audience.

1.4 Programs Whose Percentage of Child Viewers is Less than 5 Percent - Advertisements directed mainly at children may not be broadcast in any program whose percentage of viewers aged 2 to 11 is 5 percent and more of the total viewing audience.

2. Products and Services Not Directed Exclusively at Children But Which Have A Marked Appeal For Them. This category includes some 'family' products (i.e. certain sweets, certain cereals, certain cakes and desserts, hamburgers, amusement parks, etc.) and some products intended for teenagers (i.e. certain games). Depending on how it is treated, these advertisements may be broadcast under the rules set out in subsections 1.1, 1.2, 1.3 and 1.4 described above.

3. Products and Services With No Appeal For Children - this category includes products intended exclusively for adults, some 'family' products (i.e. shampoos, toothpaste), some products for teenagers (i.e. certain games, skin cleansers), and some products intended exclusively for children (i.e. health products for babies). Advertisements concerning these products may be broadcast during any program provided they are directed at adults.

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Summary of Commercial Advertising Regulation

PRODUCTS AND SERVICES EXCLUSIVELY INTENDED FOR CHILDREN

PRODUCTS AND SERVICES WITH A MARKED APPEAL FOR CHILDREN

PRODUCTS AND SERVICES WITH NO APPEAL FOR CHILDREN

DEFINITION

Includes: toys, some sweets and food products

Includes: "family" products and products for teenagers: some cereals, desserts and games

Includes products for adults, families, teenagers and children

CHILDREN PROGRAMS

NEVER
unless treatment not likely to interest children

NEVER
unless treatment not likely to interest children

Always, but treated for adults

ALL PROGRAMS OTHER THAN CHILDREN PROGRAMS

Advertisements not designed to appeal particularly to the instinctual needs of children so as to arouse their interest

Advertisements not designed to appeal particularly to the instinctual needs of children so as to arouse their interest

Always, but treated for adults

PROGRAMS WHERE 2 TO 11 YEARS OLDS MAKE UP LESS THAN 15% OF AUDIENCE

Advertisements partly directed at children

Advertisements partly directed at children

Always, but treated for adults

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EDUCATION ADVERTISING

While the Consumer Protection Act prohibits advertising directed at children, the prohibition applies only to commercial advertising. A popular form of non-commercial advertising is educational or 'public service' advertising.

Any such educational or public service advertising directed at children must meet the following requirements:

1.

it must be beneficial to the education and development of the child,

2.

considered as a whole, it must not be used as a means to get around the spirit of the Act,

3.

the product must not be identifiable other than in its generic form: there must not be a trademark.

4.

it must comply with section 83 of the General Regulations,

5.

the sponsor must be identified in a 'low-key' manner; his name must not be animated and it must not appear for more than five seconds, regardless of the length of the advertisement.

VIEWING LEVELS

As a guide to broadcasters and advertisers, the Office has prepared a study indicating the times of day when children watch television. Taking 15 percent of all Quebec children aged 2 to 11 as the norm of a significant viewing level, the periods during which the viewing level of children, converted into the share of the total audience for each thirty-minute segment, were persistently higher than the norm, were as follows:

a)

from Monday to Friday:

7:00 a.m. to 8:30 a.m.

9:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.

11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

b)

Saturday:

7:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

2:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

c)

Sunday:

7:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.

5:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

6:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.

DETERMINING IF AD IN CONFORMITY WITH ACT

To help advertisers determine if their advertisements are in conformity with sections 248 and 249 of the Act and the relevant sections of the regulations, two panels - one government, the other an ad industry panel - have been set up to give opinions on specific ads.

a)

the Committee, established by the Office de la protection du consommateur, is discussed briefly on page 2098C and described in detail on page 2099.

b)

the Industry Panel for the Avoidance of Child-Directed Advertising. This ad industry panel will also advise advertisers whether, in the panel's opinion, an ad would appear to be addressed to children or not.

[Editorial note: this panel is longer in operation]

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Quebec Consumer Protection Bureau

COMMITTEE FOR THE APPLICATION OF ARTICLES 248 AND 249 (ADVERTISING DIRECTED AT CHILDREN) OF THE CONSUMER PROTECTION ACT

1)

Mandate - the committee is to study all advertising material submitted to 1t and to provide its opinions as to whether the material conforms to the terms of Articles 248 and 249 of the Consumer Protection Act (1978, c.9) and Articles 79 to 83 of the general regulations.

2)

Members - the committee is made up of four members, all employees of the Office de la protection du consommateur. Members are: one senior employee from Communications, one senior employee from k search and two senior employees from Legal Affairs. Chairman of the committee is M. Jacques Dagenais. (The committee was not created by an Order-in-Council but by a decision of the Conseil d'administration of the Office.)

3)

Meetings - committee meetings are held every Thursday in the offices of the Consumer Protection Bureau.

4)

Documents to be Submitted

4.1 Advertising Drafts - to be considered, documents should be submitted in the following manner:

a)

a composite document (maximum 2 pages) containing: 1) the purpose of the advertisement or campaign submitted; 2) a general outline of the target group*; 3) an outline of the general media strategy;

b)

5 samples of written texts, layouts, sketches, etc.;

c)

a sample on 3/4 inch video-cassette of audio-visual material;

d)

a general outline of the media plan*;

e)

where a publicity campaign making use of several advertisements or various media is planned, all advertising material should be submitted.

4.2 Finished Products - a sample of finished advertising materials, in the form of a 3/4 inch video cassette where television advertisements are concerned.

4.3 Documents should be submitted to the Bureau at 5199 Sherbrooke St. East, Suite 2360, Montreal, H1T 3X1, before 4:30 p.m., Tuesdays, addressed to Pierre Valois. Phone No. 514-255-0344.

5)

Opinions - a) rulings will be communicated in writing, and will be justified.
b) in the event of an unfavourable ruling by the Committee regarding an advertisement, the interested party may, if they feel it necessary, present their point of view to the Committee in writing. A meeting may be requested with the Committee members for this purpose.

6)

Other - the advertising material submitted according to these guidelines will not be returned.

* the original guidelines requested a detailed media plan and specific details of the target group. These points have now been changed so that all that is required is a general outline of these subjects.
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