European Commission to liberalise ad rules for TV channels

MUMBAI: The European Commission (EC) has announced a proposal that will allow broadcasters in the European Union (EU) to use product placement in their shows and give them greater flexibility on timing commercial breaks.

The 'TV without Frontiers' directive proposes modernised rules for digital era TV and TV-like services A proposal has been tabled by the European Commission today to update the EU’s 1989 directive, to keep pace with rapid technological and market developments in Europe’s audiovisual sector.



In line with the principle of better regulation, the proposal aims to reduce the regulatory burden on Europe’s providers of TV and TV-like services and to give more flexibility for financing audiovisual content by new forms of advertising.

The proposal also aims to create a level playing field for all companies that offer TV-like services, irrespective of the technology used to deliver them (e.g. broadcast, high-speed broadband, third generation mobiles).

The commission proposes replacing disparate national rules on protection of minors, against incitement to racial hatred and against surreptitious advertising with a basic, EU-wide minimum standard of protection for audiovisual on demand services.

This new policy approach is aimed at accelerating the advent of a seamless single market for TV and TV-like services and promote a strong and creative European content industry.



Information Society and Media Commissioner Viviane Reding says, “My aim is for Europe’s audiovisual content industry to flourish under one of the most modern and flexible set of rules in the world. The new rules should open up multimedia opportunities, boosting competition and consumer choice, while promoting public interest objectives such as the protection of minors and cultural diversity. Existing rules, which have been made redundant by technological and market developments, must be abolished to take a decisive step towards audiovisual media without frontiers in Europe’s single market.”



The new directive distinguishes between linear services i.e. traditional TV, the Internet and mobile phones and non-linear ones, such as on-demand programming. The new rules apply to the linear services, while non-linear services only have a few rules to abide by: protecting minors, preventing incitement to racial hatred and outlawing surreptitious advertising.

On the advertising front, broadcasters will no longer be required to allow at least 20 minutes between ad breaks. However, the ceiling of 12 minutes of ad time per hour will not be changed. New forms of advertising, such as split screen, virtual and interactive, would be allowed under the new directive, as would product placement, except in news, current affairs and kids’ shows. Viewers will have to be informed at the start of a programme if it contains product placement.

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