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
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
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.