MEPs have decided to relax television advertising rules while introducing a strict framework for new techniques used by advertisers. On 13 December, the European Parliament thus backed the line taken by Ruth Hieronymi (EPP-ED, Germany), its rapporteur on the Television Without Frontiers Directive, on a large number of points. Like their rapporteur, MEPs propose that television dramas, feature films, children's programmes and news broadcasts can be interrupted every 30 minutes by a commercial break and not every 45 minutes as proposed by the EP's Committee on Culture and Education, which bears primary responsibility for the dossier (the Commission proposed commercial breaks every 35 minutes).

"The development of the new media market will place private television channels in a more competitive environment. It is therefore necessary to introduce greater flexibility in television advertising," said the rapporteur after the vote. MEPs nevertheless voted against her line regarding isolated commercials, which Parliament voted to ban. The limit of 12 minutes of advertising per hour is retained.

Adopting an amendment tabled by Hieronymi and the Liberal group, the EP voted to authorise product placement in films, television dramas and sports broadcasts. Member states wishing to ban product placement in films, television dramas and sports broadcasts will be free to introduce legislation at national level. Banned elsewhere, the technique, which consists in featuring brand names in programmes, should be clearly identifiable before and after programmes and every 20...

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