Brussels, 6 May 2008
Television without frontiers: the European Commission takes the next step in proceedings against Spain for not complying with television advertising restrictions
The Commission has today sent Spain a reasoned opinion for failing to comply with the television advertising rules in the Television without frontiers Directive. The infringement procedure, started in July 2007, is based on a monitoring report that found that the main TV channels in Spain, both publicly funded and commercial, failed regularly and by some margin to restrict advertising and teleshopping spots to 12 minutes per clock hour. The purpose of this limit, which is maintained in the new Directive on Audiovisual Media Services without frontiers, is to prevent audiences having their viewing interrupted by too much advertising and to promote quality television across Europe.
"Spain has not taken the measures required to ensure compliance with the European limit of 12 minutes of spots per clock hour. I am calling on the Spanish authorities to take urgent steps to come into line with the TVWF Directive. If they don’t, I will ask the Commission to refer this to the Court of Justice", said Information Society and Media Commissioner Viviane Reding. "All advertising and teleshopping spots – including “telepromotions” spots, “advertorials” or however else they are described – must be taken as counting towards the 12 minutes per clock hour. To interpret the rule in any other way is to fail to show viewers and citizens the respect they deserve. Rest assured that the Commission will defend their interests.”
Compliance with the rules contained in the Television without frontiers Directive was monitored in two stages in Spain, between 1 May and 30 June 2005 and then on the basis of a sample of one week per month from July 2005 to July 2006. It was found that the 12 minutes/hour limit was regularly being broken to a quite serious degree, owing in particular to the rules in Article 18(2) of the Directive (which, following recent amendment by the Audiovisual Media Services without frontiers Directive, has become Article 18(1)) being interpreted wrongly. In the Commission’s view, Spain has defined the concept of “advertising spot” too narrowly and as a result various forms of advertising that are familiar features of its audiovisual landscape (micro-slots, telepromotions, advertorials, etc.) are taken as falling outside the Directive’s 12 minute per hour limit and are subject under Spanish law to a different limit of 17 minutes an hour. The Commission sent a warning to Spain on 11 July 2007. The Spanish authorities replied on 31 October 2007 but did not agree to bring their interpretation of the Directive into line with that of the Commission.
Today’s decision by the Commission comes four months after the entry into force of the new Audiovisual Media Services without frontiers Directive (Directive 2007/65/EC of 11 December 2007), which maintains the limit of 12 minutes of advertising and teleshopping spots per clock hour. The Commission and the Member States are working actively in the TVWF Directive Contact Committee to prepare the prompt and consistent transposition of the new Directive.
The Television without frontiers Directive was adopted in 1989 (see IP/91/898) and revised for the first time in 1997 (see IP/97/552). On 13 December 2005, the Commission proposed revising the Directive again in order to take account of rapid technological changes and developments in the audiovisual services market such as video on demand, mobile television, and audiovisual services via digital television (see IP/05/1573 and MEMO/06/208). On 24 May 2007, the European Parliament and the Council reached agreement on the proposal (see MEMO/07/206). The new Directive on audiovisual media services entered into force on 19 December 2007 (see IP/07/1809). Member States have until 19 December 2009 to incorporate its provisions into national law.
For further information:
Press Pack about the new Directive on audiovisual media services without frontiers: