European Parliament Relents on Tougher TV Controls

14 December 2006

STRASBOURG: Meeting Wednesday to debate the latest review of the Television Without Frontiers directive, the European Parliament rejected most of the more draconian proposals to place further limits on new media, advertising, sponsorship and product placement.

Following the vote which favoured a more liberal approach, Europe's media and advertising industries exhaled in unison.

Among the motions rejected by parliament were proposals to restrict ad breaks in TV movies to one every 45 minutes; in children's programming to one break every 30 minutes - or zero breaks for programmes of less than thirty minutes.

One of the hotter potatoes, product placement, remained unmashed and is to be permitted at the discretion of individual member states.

Where allowed, however, the practice is subject to numerous restrictions and complete prohibition from news, current affairs, children's and documentary programming.

Moreover, in programmes carrying placed products, broadcasters must inform viewers of that fact at twenty-minute intervals.

Online activities, such as video-sharing websites like YouTube, escaped unscathed from the lawmakers and remain unregulated in the short term.

But media considered directly comparable to a TV broadcast in terms of style and content are subject to regulation, as are video-on-demand services.

Parliamentarian Syed Kamall (Conservative, London) spoke for many in the online community: "When we came out of [parliament's] culture committee last month I worried if we would have a sustainable new media industry in Europe," he said.

"The vote today seems to show that cool heads have prevailed."

Data sourced from; additional content by WARC staff