Viacom must have grinches running their business, especially for its well-known Nick franchise. While positioning itself as a pro-kid enterprise, Viacom has played a key role working to undermine proposed voluntary guidelines for food marketing. While the media giant has financially backed legal tomes claiming such guidelines aimed at reducing junk food aimed at kids is about protecting the First Amendment, Viacom's recent annual SEC report makes it clear it's really about making money.
Here is an excerpt from Viacom's November 2011 10 K to the FTC. It turns out they are fearful of parents being given greater control over how information can be collected from children under the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), including via mobile devices. Parents should ask the Scrooge-like folks at Nick and Viacom. Is a few dollars more worth the price of protecting the public health and privacy of America's children? From the 10 K:
...some U.S. policymakers have sought limitations on food and beverage marketing in media popular with children and teens. In April 2011, the Interagency Working Group on Food Marketed to Children (the "IWG"), which is comprised of the Federal Trade Commission (the "FTC"), the Centers for Disease Control, the Food and Drug
Administration and the Department of Agriculture, jointly requested comment on proposed nutritional restrictions for food and beverage marketing directed to
children and teens aged 17 years and under. Although the guidelines are nominally voluntary, if implemented by food and beverage marketers, they could
have a negative impact on our Media Networks advertising revenues, particularly for our networks with programming targeted to children and teens... Various other laws and regulations intended to protect the interests of children are applicable to our businesses, including measures designed to protect the
privacy of minors online. The Children's Online Privacy Protection Act ("COPPA") limits the collection of personal information online from children under
13 years of age by operators of websites or online services. In September 2011, the FTC proposed to modify and update its regulations implementing the law,
which, if adopted, could impose restrictions on the technical operations of our children-targeted websites and digital services and on the types of permissible
children-targeted marketing. State and federal policymakers are also considering regulatory and legislative methods to protect consumer privacy on the
Internet, and these efforts have focused particular attention on the vulnerabilities of children and teens...