Ad strictures in Europe

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Cross-border TV advertising in the European Union faces a major blow after a committee of the European Parliament in Brussels voted to give member states the right to ban ads from abroad if they disapprove of them. TV stations would be required to obey local ad laws covering pharmaceuticals, alcoholic drinks and any products harmful to children, according to one amendment to the TV Without Frontiers directive.

Lobbyists for the broadcasting and advertising industries say they are confident the amendment will be thrown out.

"If the commission doesn't scrap it on legal grounds, then the Council of Ministers will on political grounds," said one source. Under existing EU law, receiving member states only have the right to block advertising if the incoming material "manifestly" endangers children's physical and moral well-being.

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