The legislators voted last month for new laws that would reduce the volume of advertising on TV and limit airtime for "non-European" programs. The TV Without Frontier laws include all new emerging media such as the Internet, video-on-demand and teleshopping into the scope of the new text.
It is no coincidence that the industries' main common representation in Brussels, the European Advertising Tripartite, nearly fell apart the very week of the vote.
Four members, including the national tripartites of Germany, the Netherlands and the U.K., sent letters canceling $10,500-a-year memberships in the EAT.
At the end of that week the EAT held an emergency meeting in London to debate whether the trade association should be closed or relaunched under another name. Members including the World Federation of Advertisers, the European Association of Advertising Agencies and the Association of Commercial Television, as well as a few corporate members, now have until the next EU meeting at the end of this month to decide.
One suggestion circulating among members is to replace the EAT with a European advertising council, comprising a small number of "silver-haired statesmen- ex-chairmen of large companies," to lobby at the highest possible level.
This would be backed up by a monitoring organization giving information and analysis quickly to members.
Lobbyists charged with fighting for the advertising industry in the political heart of Europe themselves admit that last month's vote "was a failure of lobbying."
"Serious mistakes were made," said one.
The TV Without Frontiers directive is so controversial that it has pried apart long-standing alliances between the media, advertisers and agencies.