NEW YORK Aug 16 Viacom Inc's VIA.N VIAb.N children's television network Nickelodeon will limit use of its licensed characters on food packaging for products that do not meet certain health criteria.
Nickelodeon's announcement comes after some of America's largest food and drink companies, including McDonald's Corp (MCD.N), the Coca-Cola Company (KO.N) and PepsiCo Inc (PEP.N), last month said they would put stricter controls on advertising aimed at children under 12. Nickelodeon said its policy will become effective with new licensing agreements in January 2009, according to a letter on Wednesday from president Cyma Zarghami to Rep. Edward Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat and chairman of the House telecommunications committee.
Markey last month called on media companies to join food and drink companies in adopting more responsible food marketing to help address childhood obesity.
Nickelodeon, which carries significant licensing clout for characters in its hit television shows including SpongeBob SquarePants, the Fairly OddParents, and Rugrats, said its new licensing agreements will have to meet dietary guideline criteria established by its market partners, and based on governmental standards.
The company did not rule out using its licensed characters on holiday treats, according to Zarghami's letter.
((Reporting by Lilla Zuill; Editing by Paul Bolding; +1 646 223 6000; Email: Lilla.Zuill@reuters.com)) Keywords: VIACOM ADVERTISING/
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