Commission des Communautés européennes, Bruxelles, le 23 avril 2004 - 2004/04/23
With the development of new advertising techniques such as split screen, interactive, and virtual advertising, and the increasing use of new forms of advertising, questions about the proper interpretation of the rules on advertising in the Television Without Frontiers (TVWF) Directive, and the compatibility of these practices therewith, have repeatedly been put to the Commission. Through a communication adopted on April 23, 2004, at the initiative of Viviane Reding, European Commissioner for Education and Culture, the Commission intends to clarify its interpretation of TVWF, which was first adopted in 1989 and renewed in June 1997. “This communication,” indicated the Commission, “interprets the directive but does not change the rule of law.”
It clarifies the following points: quantitative restrictions on advertising (hourly and daily amounts); the separation of editorial and advertising content, specifying that use of mini-spots (very common in Italy) is authorized so long as it remains the exception to the rule and does not become a nuisance to viewers; and the notion surreptitious advertising. The communication also analyzes how TVWF applies to new advertising techniques, specifically split screen advertising (the simultaneous or parallel transmission of editorial and advertising content), which is prohibited in Portugal and France, but permitted in the U.K.; interactive advertising, which is only allowed in the U.K.; and virtual sponsorship (the use of virtual techniques to insert ads during broadcasts, e.g., sporting events), which is prohibited in Portugal and Norway, but allowed in Spain and Greece.
The communication in the wake of the communication on the future of the audiovisual policy and public consultation launched by the Commission with a view to possibly reviewing the TVWF directive. Ms Reding declared that “the Television without Frontiers Directive recognizes that advertising is the economic basis for all private and for a part of public service free-to-air television, which is essential for a free and diversified television and media landscape in Europe. At the same time, the Directive makes it clear that there have to be limits to advertising in order to safeguard the interests of the viewers, and also of the right-holders of audiovisual works. This Communication enables broadcasters, viewers and right-holders alike to understand better what is allowed and what is not.” (Available in French and English)