AA urges the EU to relax ad bans

Britain’s ad industry has been mobilising in advance of this week’s ’super Thursday’ when key decisions could sound the death knell for some of Europe’s most controversial advertising bans.

Britain’s ad industry has been mobilising in advance of this week’s

’super Thursday’ when key decisions could sound the death knell for some

of Europe’s most controversial advertising bans.



France’s Loi Evin, a law that prohibits alcohol advertising, Germany’s

limits on customer loyalty programmes and the Greek Government’s

draconian restrictions on toy advertising may all move a step closer to

being outlawed by the European Court.



The action coincides with a meeting of EU health ministers who were

expected to discuss a compromise proposal allowing Formula One motor

racing to be exempted from a Europe-wide tobacco ad ban for at least six

years.



It is part of a possible deal allowing the sport a renewable but

temporary exemption from the regulations.



The Advertising Association has written to Jacques Santer, the European

Commission president, and to all 20 EU commissioners urging them to

support moves to reverse the French, German and Greek bans.



Attempts to quash them could be accelerated at this Thursday’s meeting

of an EU complaints committee at which lawyers are deciding whether or

not legal challenges to the bans should have the EU support that is

vital if they are to succeed.



The six-year-old Loi Evin has been a constant target of advertising

lobbyists who claim it has resulted in huge losses for the media

industry in France and the rest of Europe without any appar-ent

improvement in public health.



On the contrary, they say, alcohol consumption by French teenagers has

increased. They also cite EU figures showing that sales of own-label,

low-price strong beer have jumped by a third between 1991 and 1996.



Greek laws forbidding toy advertising on TV between 7am and 10pm have

been ineffective, critics claim.



Lionel Stanbrook, the AA’s deputy director-general, said: ’Far from

stopping US domination of children’s markets - which is what the Greeks

say they intended - children’s programming is more US-dominated than

ever before because budgets have dropped by 50 per cent.’



Meanwhile, health ministers were mooting exceptions to a total tobacco

ad ban, including publications from outside the EU, the tobacco trade

press and point-of-sale material at street kiosks.



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