MEPs vote to update EU law on audiovisual advertising

BEUC NEWS 05.05.2017

Last week, the European Parliament’s lead Cultural Affairs Committee adopted its position on a draft law to revise advertising in audiovisual services such as TV and video-on-demand platforms. The current EU law dates from 2010 and does not take technological developments and shifting viewing patterns into account such as watching TV online, subscribing to pay-on-demand services and using video sharing platforms.

On the positive side, video sharing platforms will have to comply with qualitative advertising rules, such as disclosing if videos contain product placement or receive another kind of sponsoring. MEPs also agreed to keep the obligation to have a minimum time of 30 minutes between commercial breaks in films on TV.

Unfortunately, the Parliament missed the opportunity to take stronger measures to stop marketing of food high in fat, salt and sugar to children. On this point the report only calls on Member States to “encourage” industry co- and self-regulation. Today the food industry’s self-developed criteria that define which foods can or cannot be marketed to kids are too lenient. It is a shame that MEPs have not recognised the stricter WHO criteria instead.

The World Health Organization (WHO) considers that 1 in 3 children in Europe is either overweight or obese. Their research shows that this ‘epidemic’ is directly linked to the marketing of unhealthy food and drinks.

In addition, the European Parliament’s committee sided with the Commission to shift a 20% hourly limit for TV advertising to a 20% daily limit. As a consequence, viewers could be flooded with advertising if broadcasters were to concentrate TV ads during certain periods of the day. The committee only added the possibility for Member States to define a ‘prime time’ window of up to 4 hours during which an additional 20% per hour limit would apply.

The Council is expected to adopt its position in May. Negotiations between the Co-legislators should start shortly after.

For more information about our campaign on food marketing to children: