Europe’s advertisers were warned this week that they might have to
accept restrictions on what they can say in return for the freedom to
The prospect of a possible trade-off was raised by Lionel Stanbrook,
deputy director-general of the Advertising Association. He told a London
conference on advertising law: ’It’s a compromise, I know, and not a
particularly attractive one - but few compromises are.’
He claimed a trade-off might be necessary because of national laws which
continued to hamper the EU’s declared intention of free movement of
media and marketing across the European Community.
His suggestion comes as advertising lobbyists continue to press for the
removal of restrictions on alcohol and toy advertising by France and
Greece respectively and an end to Sweden’s ban on TV advertising to
But Stanbrook suggested the only way forward was for a balance to be
struck between freedom of communication and the need for high standards
of consumer protection.
Such a deal could mean that the freedom to advertise any legally sold
product or service would be guaranteed, subject to self-regulation,
which may involve consumer representation on watchdog bodies.
’Certain agreed formal limits on commercial content could then be
contemplated, as these would not pose such a large barrier to trade as
the complete denial of access,’ Stanbrook added.
But he claimed the agreement could only work with a credible
cross-border system of self-regulation in place.
’If the industry does not rise to this challenge, the Commission might
force it on the industry in terms of its structure and financing,’ he