Belgian sex ring scandal provokes ad censorship row

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BRUSSELS -- The Flemish parliament is set to debate the introduction of tougher censorship of TV programming and advertising content, following the recent child sex ring scandal in Belgium.

Minister for culture and audio-visual affairs Eric van Rompuy is warning Belgian advertisers, agency and media executives that public pressure is mounting and that TV may be made a scapegoat for the evils recently unearthed.

"The Flemish government (with jurisdiction over the northern half of Belgium) must now address the issue of censorship," he says.

Van Rompuy gave his warning to the advertising industry at an official lunch hosted by the Union Belges des Annonceurs (UBA), Belgium's tripartite trade association last Thursday.

The response was initially muted, but several attendees later spoke out angrily against the plan. "Hey, don't shoot the pianist," says one executive from Flanders' biggest commercial TV station VTM.

"It is a worrying prospect and we plan to have further discussions with the minister about this threat," says Emmanuel de Vicq, president of the UBA. "What is needed is a mind reaction, not a gut reaction to the atrocities," comments Didier de Jaeger, associate director of independent ad agency Kadratura.

"It seems a little hypocritical for politicians to be blaming the media."

Copyright September 1996, Crain Communications Inc.

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