European Parliament backs new TV ad rules

MUMBAI: The European parliament has backed the proposals to overhaul the 1989 Television without Frontiers Directive, last updated in 1997 and which has failed to keep pace with the rapid changes in the audiovisual sector.

The new rules will be renamed to the audiovisual media services directive to reflect the changes in the marketplace over the last ten years.

The Parliament stated that product placement should soon be legal across the EU, subject to some conditions. Films, TV series, sports programmes and entertainment will be allowed to carry product placement advertising, providing viewers are warned in advance and at least once every 20 minutes.

News, current affairs programmes, documentaries and children's TV programmes will not be allowed to carry product placements. Product placement for tobacco products will not be allowed.

Parliament also agreed to allow breaks for commercials in movies and some other TV programs every 30 minutes, and not, as the Commission had proposed, every 35 minutes, or the Culture Committee, with 45 minutes.

Centre-left spokesman Henri Weber said, "While the use of product placement will be limited, parliament has relaxed the rules on advertising."

MEPs mentioned that such broadcasts could only be blocked if they were fully justified for reasons of public policy, including the protection of minors or public security or public health or the protection of cultural diversity.

They also drew up a list of criteria that national governments must fulfil to justify any such measures, and stipulated that the European commission should have the final say on whether programmes could justifiably be blocked.

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