The European Commission has presented a report on the application of the Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMSD). The AVMSD enables the free circulation of audiovisual content and meets important public policy objectives such as banning incitement to hatred, protecting minors from harmful content and promoting European audiovisual works.
The key issues covered in the report are advertising practices and the need for further guidance on Connected TV. As a result, the Commission will:
“The report shows that the AVMS Directive is working, but Internet-driven changes such as Connected TV mean we cannot be complacent,” commented Vice President Neelie Kroes.
In terms of the implementation of the AVMSD, 25 Member States have notified complete transposition of the AVMSD into their national legislation. Two Member States – Poland and Belgium – still need to adapt their legislation.
Advertising and teleshopping spots on television may not exceed 12 minutes per hour. The report revealed that the application of this rule gave rise to different formats of advertisements. For example, in Spain different types of television advertising were introduced, but were not considered advertising spots by the Spanish authorities. The Court held, however, that these types constituted advertising spots and therefore had to be counted under the 12-minute rule.
The Commission monitored advertising practices in eight Member States during the reference period. In a number of Member States the 12-minute limit of advertising spots is regularly breached. On the basis of these findings, administrative letters were sent to the respective Member States and discussions are still ongoing. The Commission will continue to monitor Member States’ compliance with the advertising rules and, if necessary, initiate infringement procedures.
In the monitored Member States alcohol advertising represents between 0.8 per cent and 3 per cent of overall advertising activity on audiovisual media services based on the total number of spots broadcast over the monitored period. No clear infringements were found.
In implementing the AVMSD requirements on alcohol advertising, 22 Member States have put in place somewhat stricter rules for alcohol advertising involving channels, advertised products or time slots.
According to the AMVSD, audiovisual commercial communications must not cause physical or moral harm to minors. This means that they must not: directly exhort minors to buy or hire a product or service by exploiting their inexperience or credulity; directly encourage minors to persuade their parents or others to purchase the goods or services being advertised; exploit the special trust minors place in parents, teachers or other persons; or unreasonably show minors in dangerous situations.
Content analysis of the 100 most frequently broadcast advertising spots showed that the Directive’s provisions on the protection of minors in advertising were seldom contravened. As with alcohol advertising, because of the detailed wording of the relevant provisions, there are few infringements of the AVMSD. Nevertheless, it does appear that advertising techniques geared towards minors are frequently used in television advertising.
Five Member States prohibit advertising in children’s programmes. Four Member States impose a partial ban or other restrictions on advertising in children’s programmes, either during specific time slots or for specific products, and seven Member States prohibit the showing of sponsorship logos in children’s programmes.
The report also analysed the sex discrimination and gender stereotypes in the 100 most frequently broadcast advertising spots in eight Member States. Stereotyped representation of gender roles was found in 21 per cent to 36 per cent of the spots analysed. However, in some Member States a number of positions, professions or products are more systematically associated with a specific gender than in other Member States. The report revealed that none of the countries surveyed is immune to such stereotyped representations.
In view of the foregoing, the Commission said it would further monitor the implementation of advertising rules in the Member States and update its interpretative Communication on certain aspects of the provisions on televised advertising in 2013.
Noting that with more citizens having access to higher Internet speeds, and the increase of connected devices and available content, the EC says it can be expected that Connected TV will grow relatively fast over the next few years. To ensure that European citizens take full advantage of this new services and enjoy quality access to audiovisual works through connected devices while being adequately protected, the EC says it will launch a public consultation on this issue by the end of 2012.