Cross border advertising wins major European legal ruling

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BRUSSELS -- Sweden's blanket ban on children's advertising has been dealt a near fatal blow following a decision taken by the Advocate General of the European Court of Justice yesterday.

He will advise the Court itself to rule in the so-called Di Agustini case that total advertising bans are illegal under article 30 of the Treaty of Rome. The Court will decide by the end of this year.

If the Advocate General's opinion is followed - as is usual - then cross border advertising throughout Europe will be immune to any national bans.

"This means that satellite channels can beam children's advertising into Sweden legally, explains Stephan Luiten, consultant for Toy Manufacturers Europe (TME).

"The opinion does not prevent Sweden imposing selective bans on domestic channels though," he adds. "If Sweden maintains its own ban it will be giving its own domestic broadcast companies an unfair disadvantage."

"Its quite a radical step," argues Mike Pullen, lawyer and media specialist with British law firm Eversheds. "If it is followed by the Court it will turn other directives like the misleading advertising directive on its head."

"Any bans by member states on advertising will apply only to domestic channels," he adds.

Copyright September 1996, Crain Communications Inc.

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