Swedish conference views advertising as a menace to society

Advertising was grouped together with violence and pornography as a dangerous social evil at a conference held in Sweden this week.

Advertising was grouped together with violence and pornography as a dangerous social evil at a conference held in Sweden this week.

But the threat of a Europe-wide ban on advertising to children - part of the Swedes' agenda for their presidency of the European Union - was diverted.

Jean-Eric de Cockborn, the head of policy for the EU, won favour at the conference's closing session by stressing that the burden of proof must lie with the individuals or bodies seeking bans or restrictions on advertising - they will have to demonstrate that the ban is necessary and justifiable before any action is taken.

The conference's opening speech, delivered to an audience of communications professionals as well as consumer groups and children's societies, caused a 'ding dong', according to Andrew Brown, the director-general of the Advertising Association. 'There was a furious exchange of views,' Brown said. 'It was an emotional start.'

The Swedes argued that children under 12 years old cannot differentiate between commercials and programming, while other nationalities insisted that the existing regulatory structure is effective, and that advertising revenue is essential to improving children's programming.

'Children cannot be isolated from the commercial world,' Brown insisted.

The Swedes already have a domestic ban on advertising to children.



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