EU bureaucrats threaten use of child actors

- The use of child actors in commercials is threatened with major disruption because of rule-tightening by EU bureaucrats.

- The use of child actors in commercials is threatened with major disruption because of rule-tightening by EU bureaucrats.

As a result, agencies wanting to feature child performers could face increased difficulties and delays obtaining the necessary permissions.

Now the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising is seeking a meeting with the Department of Health and representatives of Britain's local authorities to prevent the system becoming bogged down in red tape.

The problem has been caused by legislation rushed through by the Government before the summer recess and without notifying the industry to comply with the European Directive on the Protection of Young People at Work.

Until last month, children could do commercials work for up to four days within a six month period without needing a license from their local authority.

Under the new law, all performances by children now need a licence, even if the child works only one day a year.

The change could cause huge problems because of town hall bureaucracy. Simon Gallant, the IPA's legal affairs director, said: "We've already had one local authority saying it needs 21 days notice for a licence application."

The Department of Health has given the IPA a written assurance that it is sympathetic to the problem and will try to ensure that the new legislation is not rigidly enforced. But industry leaders fear future difficulties.

"The legislation is on the statute book and local authorities have to implement it," said one. "It's a very unsatisfactory situation and it's important that the Department of Health, local authorities and ourselves agree a common approach."


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