European Parliament recognises advertising self-regulation and endorses EU Pledge

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27/05/2013
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On May 22, the European Parliament adopted a resolution on the Implementation of the Audio-Visual Media Services (AVMS) Directive which welcomes advertising self-regulation as a complement to regulation and recognises the efforts made by the food and beverage industry in the context of the EU Pledge.

The report – a non-binding document sharing the European Parliament's views on the implementation of the AVMS Directive – was adopted with 593 votes in favour, 69 against and 14 abstentions. The full text of the resolution is available here.

The report follows the publication in May 2012 by the European Commission of the first application report on the Audiovisual Media Services Directive, in which the Commission welcomed the progress made by the industry in the field of marketing and advertising self-regulation, as highlighted by the evaluation of the Platform for Action on Diet, Physical Activity and Health.

The report was prepared by Polish Conservative member Piotr Borys, who repeatedly emphasised that self-regulation was a very important aspect of the Directive during the adoption process.

Formal recognition of advertising self-regulation, particularly in the area of food and beverage marketing to children

Calls for advertising bans were rejected when the text was first examined in the Culture committee. As adopted yesterday, the report formally recognises co-regulatory and self-regulatory initiatives, which “offer a means of reacting more swiftly to developments in the rapidly changing world of the media”. The report notes also that self-regulation should be regarded as complementary to legal provisions, and that they should “regularly be monitored to ensure their enforcement”. In line with this vision, MEPs call on the Commission “to give these relatively new regulatory tools a greater role in the protection of minors” in the event of a revision of the AVMS Directive.

Most importantly, the report formally recognises the EU Pledge, a commitment of major food and beverage manufacturers and WFA to the EU Platform on Diet, Physical Activity and Health. The report recognises that these efforts “respond to the AVMS Directive's call for codes of conduct for commercial communications, accompanying or included in children's programmes, of foods and beverages high in fat, sugar and salt”.

When the AVMS Directive was adopted, calls for stricter regulation of advertising to children were discarded in favour of a self-regulatory mandate to industry. Over the years, and in the context of the European Commission's Platform, industry has invested a great deal of resources and energy in responding to this mandate. It is therefore a major achievement that the European Parliament recognises and encourages those efforts as it examines the application of the AVMS Directive, and begins deliberations on a potential future regulatory framework for connected TV.

Other points to note:

The resolution calls on the Commission to update its Interpretative Communication on television advertising to take account of experience gained under the EU Platform for Action on Diet, Physical Activity and Health, and the EU Alcohol and Health Forum

The resolution voices concern that that the 12-minute per hour limitation on advertising is “regularly breached” in some Member States, and “highlights the need to monitor commercial formats devised to circumvent this restriction, especially surreptitious advertising, which can confuse consumers”.

The resolution also calls for a ban on “prejudicial advertising”, a practice already defined and prohibited in Article 9 of the Directive.

In an exchange a views held a day before the report was put to a vote, Neelie Kroes, Vice President of the European Commission responsible for the Digital Agenda for Europe, welcomed the well-balanced report. She reported that the European Commission will launch a study on the exposure of minors to alcohol advertising, the results of which should be available end of 2014. She added that the European Commission published a Green Paper on convergence, offering a chance for stakeholders to share their views on issues linked to “Connected TV”, including whether the current legislative framework is adequate.

For more information, contact Malte Lohan (m.lohan@wfanet.org)


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