Ad breaks in kids TV win Euro reprieve

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BRUSSELS -- An attempt to ban all TV ads during children's programmes in Europe was quashed Tuesday in a plenary debate on new broadcasting law in the European Parliament.

Parliamentarians threw out three separate amendments proposed by individual MEPS which sought to ban all ad breaks during children's hours.

But they did agree to introduce a V-Chip screening device into all TV sets, in a bid to protect children from sex and violence on the small screen. They also agreed to include ad spots, along with programme announcements, in a clause which seeks to protect kids' psychological wellbeing.

Aside from the volatile issue of protection of minors, the second reading of the TV Without Frontiers directive offered advertisers and broadcasters a mixed bag of changes to the existing TVWF directive in operation since 1989.

Pay-TV channels such as Rupert Murdoch's BSkyB will have to give up exclusive rights to major sporting events, so as to allow "a sizable proportion of the public" to view the events live for free.The parliament also agreed to ban advertising on teleshopping channels.

But overall, the second reading of the TV Without Frontiers directive revision has provoked a general sigh of relief among advertisers, who expected a worse result. "The most threatening amendments to advertising put forward by parliamentarians were not adopted," says Director General of the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) Bernard Adriaensens. "It is a good result."

Other favourable items agreed on at the second reading include: no new restrictions on advertising airtime; no tightening of programming quotas and all new media to be excluded from the scope of the directive.

Parliament will now argue out the fine print of the directive's revision with the Council of Ministers. A common position agreed by both houses is necessary before a new directive can be drawn up. A final outcome is expected early next year.

Copyright November 1996, Crain Communications Inc.

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