Payday loan ads may be banned before TV watershed

Emma Woollacott
Payday Loans sign glows in green neon on a black background
Payday Loans sign glows in green neon on a black background

Payday loans ads look set to be banned before the 9.00 TV watershed, following concerns that they may be appealing to children.

During a debate on the Consumer Rights Bill in the House of Lords yesterday, minister Baroness Jolly said the Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice (BCAP) will now look into the scheduling of payday loan ads, as well as their content.

"The Government is determined that children are protected from inappropriate advertising by pay-day lenders," she said. "The key to protecting children must be to ensure that all adverts seen at any time of day have appropriate content and are not marketed at children in any way."

The move has been welcomed by campaigners including the Children's Society.

"Our research shows that children are routinely being exposed to advertising that makes high-risk, high-cost loans seem fun or normal. And the majority of British parents support a pre-watershed ban," says chief executive Matthew Reed.

"Children should learn about borrowing and debt from their school and family – not from irresponsible payday loan advertising which encourages families to fall into problem debt."

But Baroness Jolly's announcement wasn't quite enough for Labour, which attempted to amend the Consumer Rights Bill to ban payday loan ads before the watershed too, but lost by 216 votes to 200.

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Osborne: Payday Loans Costs Will Be Capped
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Ofcom figures show that more than 80% of payday loan ads on television appear before the 9.00 watershed. And, according to the Children's Society, more than seven in ten children see or hear one of these ads each week, and one third find them "fun, tempting or exciting". And the information sinks in: 93% of teenagers know at least one of eight top payday loan companies, and more than half of children were able to recognise at least three lenders.

BCAP is already carrying out a review into the content of payday loan television advertisements. The guidelines already state that ads mustn't urge children to buy a product or ask their parents to buy a product, and BCAP wants to investigate whether companies are abiding by these rules.

It also plans to look at whether payday loan companies are appealing to children without breaking the letter of the law. It will publish its findings early next year.

Cash Converters was recently forced to withdraw an ad offering payday loans to people with "kids to entertain". And, earlier this year, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) ruled against payday loan company Sunny over two ads featuring cute puppets - although this was because the ad didn't contain enough information on APR, rather than because it appealed to children.

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