The new Liberal [center-right] government of Denmark, elected barely one month ago, has dashed hopes of a Nordic alliance banning advertising to children. Denmark, which together with Norway imposed the ban in January 2000, seemingly made its removal a priority of office.

But the government insists it opposes the ban on pragmatic grounds rather than those of principle. Explains minister of culture Brian Mikkelsen: “The ban on TV ads directed at kids is a good idea. But in reality, what it meant was that Danish TV channels operated at a competitive disadvantage to foreign channels available in Denmark. We were able to regulate Danish channels, but not the foreign stations.”

The news comes as an acute disappointment to the anti advertising-to-kids lobbies in Norway, Denmark and elsewhere in Europe. Denmark, which assumes the six-monthly rotating presidency of the European union in July 2002, had been expected to use its influence to argue for an EU-wide extension of the ban.

Meantime, the Danish media are breaking out the bubbly. “For TV, the ban meant a $5 million loss in revenue,” says Flemming Rasmussen, director of advertising at ailing state commercial channel TV2. “That money moved to other media and rival foreign TV stations. We now have to go out and win those advertisers back.”

The ban imposed two ad-free zones during children’s programs: at weekends before 9:30am when commercials geared toward children under twelve were prohibited entirely; and an eleven minute moratorium both before and after programs targeting young children. These rules are now swept away.

News source: AdAge Global