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01/11/2006

Request to support an Amendment to ban alcohol adverts on TV before 9.00 p.m.

The 1989 Television without Frontiers Directive is currently being revised and updated to deal with the digital media environment. The legislation sets the rules for media service providers on advertising, sponsorship, product placement.

Eurocare and other public health NGOs have been tracking the updated version of the TV without Frontiers Directive, now known as the Audiovisual Directive. One of the key principles in the proposed Directive is protection of children and minors from harmful content.

The Directive is now about to go to vote in the Plenary of the European Parliament on 12 December 2006. The public health NGOs active on alcohol policy had worked hard to successfully convince the Industry, Trade, Research and Energy Committee (ITRE) and the Women's Rights and Gender Equality Committee (FEMM) to vote for an amendment to ban all alcohol advertising between 06.00 am and 09.00 pm. Unfortunately, the lead Committee - Culture and Education - did not take up this issue in their list of recommended amendments for the Plenary session.

Several MEPs in the other Committees feel strongly on this and a group of cross-party MEPS led by Mrs Asa Westlund have proposed a new Amendment for the plenary vote which would ban alcohol adverts on TV before 9.00 in the evening.

Alcohol adverts could not be shown before 9.00 p.m. The reasons for this are simple:

  • Before 9.00 p.m. the TV audience includes families, children and teenagers.
  • Increasing numbers of young people drink alcohol, drink heavily and start at a very young age (average across Europe of 12.5 years old)
  • Alcohol advertising is designed to sell more products. More sales means more drinking which means more harm. Europe is already the region that drinks almost twice as much alcohol as the rest of the world.
  • Despite some existing restrictions, alcohol adverts are enjoyed and appreciated by young people who regularly select them as their favourite ads when questioned. The current legal framework is failing to stop alcohol adverts attracting children and young people.
  • A single time framework across the EU (not before 9.00 p.m.) would be easy to understand and implement. It would keep prime time TV programming free from alcohol adverts.
  • This amendment would be a contribution by the European Parliament to ongoing efforts to tackle the growing trend of heavy and harmful drinking among young people.

What can I do to help?

If you think that television programme between 06.00 a.m. and 9.00 p.m. should be free from any alcohol adverts, contact your Member of the European Parliament (http://www.europarl.europa.eu/members/public.do?language=en) and ask them to support the Westlund Amendment.

If you want to find out more about how to complain about an alcohol advert, contact the national self-regulatory body in your country (http://www.easa-alliance.org/about_easa/en/easa_members.html).

For MEPs

Vote for the Westlund Amendment

An amendment has been tabled by a cross-party group of MEPs led by Mrs Asa Westlund. This amendment to Article 15 adds a new sentence:

"Television advertising for alcoholic beverages should not be broadcast between 6.00 a.m. and 9.00 p.m."

Is the time limit a new idea?

Throughout the process of revising the TV without Frontiers Directive, concerns have been expressed about alcohol advertising. In June 2005, the Culture Committee adopted the WEBER Report (A6-0202/2005) on the application of Articles 4 and 5 of TWF Directive. This report notes:

28. Underlines the need to define clearly the content of, and rules on, advertising, in particular that relating to alcohol, which has a particularly harmful effect on children and vulnerable people; recalls that protection of minors must continue to be a priority objective of audiovisual policy and a fundamental principle which ought to be extended to all audiovisual services made available to the public;

The ITRE and FEMM Committees both voted for a ban on alcohol advertising between 6.00 a.m. and 9.00 p.m.

Therefore a significant number of MEPs have already debated the need for stronger control on alcohol advertising and voted for a ban during this time period.

However, on 13 November 2006 when the Education and Culture Committee reviewed the opinions of the other Committees and approved their Report for the Plenary vote, the time limits on alcohol adverts was not included.

On 12 December 2006, MEPs have an opportunity to vote for an Amendment that would establish a time period for television programming during which children and young people will not be exposed to alcohol advertising. This is an important step towards limiting the rising trend of early drinking and heavy drinking among young people.

For further information and to support the amendment, please contact the office of Mrs Westlund.

Per Hilmersson

Email: jandersson-assistant@europarl.europa.eu

Tel: 02 284 7554

More information:

http://www.notbefore9.eu