Disney Junk-Food Ban Is Seen Costing It Less Than $7.2M

Walt Disney Co.’s plan to bar junk-food advertising from children’s programming would have cost less than $7.2 million in television ad revenue if it were in effect last year, according to estimates by Kantar Media.

That’s the amount that Disney generated from beverage and food commercials aimed at children in 2011, the New York-based research firm said. The figure is less a 10th of 1 percent of Disney’s total annual advertising sales. The company reported ad revenue of $7.6 billion for its media networks in its last fiscal year, an increase of 8 percent.

Zenia Mucha, a spokeswoman for Burbank, California-based Disney, said the company doesn’t disclose ad revenue from individual networks or from particular advertisers. She said the Kantar figure was inaccurate, without elaborating.

Disney announced today that the Disney XD cable network and its block of Saturday morning shows on ABC will bar advertising of foods and beverages that don’t meet its nutrition guidelines by 2015. The same restrictions also will apply to the Disney Channel and Disney Junior -- cable channels that feature sponsorships but no commercials and therefore aren’t counted by Kantar.

Kantar’s estimates suggest that the change isn’t a big gamble for Disney, the world’s largest entertainment business. The company also stands to gain from promoting healthier Disney-endorsed foods. It’s developing a “Mickey Check” logo, which will indicate that products meet its nutritional standards. That will begin appearing by the end of 2012.

The company unveiled the plan at an event today with first lady Michelle Obama, who has made healthy eating a signature issue of her office. Chief Executive Officer Robert Iger declined to comment on which products don’t meet the standards, beyond saying that there were “a lot.”

“We hope to work with these companies so that they can continue advertising on our programs with a product that is nutritious and meets our guidelines,” he said at the event.

Giving parents assurance that Disney-branded products are healthy will ultimately will increase sales, Iger said. “We can create huge change without having the government step in.”

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