The “Television without Frontiers” Directive, newly-modernised after 18 months of discussion, opens the way for Europeans to see more product placements, such as in America. An example of product placement is when the hero onscreen uses a soap or a car and the manufacturer contributes to the producers’ revenue. It is the first time this has been authorised at EU level, though children’s content and news remain off-limits.
The 27 European culture ministers agreed on the legal framework for the sector with the European Parliament, to be definitively adopted this autumn, as a response to marketing and technological developments for emerging audiovisual media services.
The rules to be applied in the EU member states by the end of 2009 would keep the 12 minutes of ads per hour limit in place now, though the three hour per day cap will come off. The current 45 minutes between interruptions will be shortened to 30 minutes. Countries will be able to impose stricter rules if they wish.
Advertising aimed at children falls within a new code of conduct. For example: this is supposed to reduce young exposure to food products high in fat, salt or sugar, out of public health concern. However, British regulators say that 71 percent of the time children are in front of the TV set they are not watching programming meant for them.