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01/10/2006

Finland - No alcohol advertising on TV before 9 p.m.

If the Finnish government gets its way, the screening of alcohol advertisements on TV will be prohibited before 9pm.

The government is due to present a legislative proposal to Parliament on the matter in the coming weeks, according to Ismo Tuominen, the top official responsible for alcohol affairs and the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health.

Finland's television stations oppose this regulation. “The companies claim that self-regulation and internal controls constitute the most effective and quickest means to carry out the government's decision in principle to place restrictions on alcohol advertisements,” NewsRoom Finland reported Aug. 15.

Answering a draft presented by the government's alcohol policy group in March, the Finnish TV stations are asking for self regulation. They have agreed upon a watershed for alcohol advertising at 9pm as of the beginning of next year. This is in line with the government's proposal.

“The Television channels are allergic to any kind of legislation. They want self-regulation. At the same time, they knew they had to do something,” Mr Tuominen told Europanytt.

The Ministerial Adviser sees two serious problems with a system of self-regulation in this case:

“First of all this is an action agreed by the companies. They can therefore choose to say that this should not apply to them anymore,” he said.

He doubted penalties will be imposed to those violating the agreement and said self-regulation is not an alternative to statutory regulation.

Secondly, he fears that there might be television channels in Finland that have not agreed to undertake this measure.

France and Sweden are the only two EU countries with a general ban on alcohol advertising on television.

“We have had the idea of introducing a law like the Loi Evin in France, but we felt that the time was not yet right. During the preparation, we asked for a ban, but this is what the government has come out with,” Mr Tuominen said.

The Finnish government's alcohol policy working group in March announced a range of measures aimed at reducing hazards caused by rising alcohol consumption.

Press release from the Finnish government in March: http://vnk.fi/ajankohtaista/tiedotteet/tiedote/en.jsp?oid=149634