Sweden declares plan to extend kids’ ad ban

Sweden this week set the stage for its bid to win a Europe-wide ban on TV advertising to children.

Sweden this week set the stage for its bid to win a Europe-wide ban

on TV advertising to children.



At a meeting of European Union culture ministers in Brussels on Tuesday,

Sweden’s Marita Ulvskog confirmed the country would use its EU

presidency in 2001 to extend the ban in its own market across the

continent.



Although the Swedes have been indicating their intention to win support

for the outlawing of TV advertising to 64 million children under the age

of 14 in EU countries for some time, Ulvskog’s announcement is the first

formal declaration of intent.



Sweden’s call for tighter legislation is thought to be partly a result

of the explosion of the internet, which has made it easier for

advertisers to communicate with children.



Meanwhile, Sweden’s consumer ombudsman, who is responsible for enforcing

the country’s ban, said he would welcome a Europe-wide ban in order to

thwart children’s advertising being beamed into the country via

satellite.



Axel Edling, in London to address an Advertising Association conference,

said: ’I’m an interpreter of the law, not a legislator. But satellite TV

is a problem and a Europe-wide ban would make things easier for me.’



Edling told the conference that Sweden took a tough line because

children did not understand what advertising was. And he claimed that

the ban, in force since 1991, had widespread support as well as the

backing of the country’s ad agencies.



’They know that their young consumers do not understand the character of

the message or its objective,’ he said.



Edling brushed aside industry arguments that banning TV advertising to

children would cause funding for quality children’s programming to dry

up. And he accused advertisers of trivialising the notion of commercial

freedom of speech, claiming they were trying to get a ’free ride’ on a

highly respected principle.



But Bryan Ellis, European deputy general manager for the toymaker,

Hasbro, said Sweden’s ban was distorting the market. Toys in Sweden were

up to 40 per cent more expensive than in other European countries

because of a lack of competition between retailers, Ellis claimed.



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