[18/10] Advertising on the Broadcasting Media (12/11/2010)

Media Release 18/10 

Advertising on the Broadcasting Media 

One of the main objectives of the new Audiovisual Media Services Directive of the European Union, which was transposed into Maltese legislation on 1st June 2010 following the necessary amendments to the Broadcasting Act, is the liberalisation of the previous EU advertising regime for the broadcasting media. The purpose of this liberalisation is to stimulate the further growth of the audiovisual industry in the respective Member States. 

Accordingly, it is now possible for Member States to allow ‘product placement’ in cinematographic works, films and series made for audiovisual media services as well as in sports programmes and light entertainment programmes. The previous requirement for a 20-minute time-frame between one advertising break and another has been dropped and new forms of advertising, such as ‘pop-up’ advertising, is now allowed. During the past few months, the Broadcasting Authority has held various briefing sessions on this new regime for local broadcasting stations and independent producers, and the industry is gradually adjusting to this new reality. 

The Audiovisual Media Services Directive and the Broadcasting Act, however, retain a number of previous provisions which are primarily intended to protect the interests of the televiewer as a consumer. For example, the requirement for a television broadcasting station not to transmit more than 12 minutes of advertising during every hour of broadcasting time still stands and surreptitious advertising is still prohibited. Likewise, the requirement for television advertising and teleshopping to be readily recognisable and distinguishable from editorial content is still on the statute book.

The Broadcasting Authority will continue to make every effort to ensure that the consumer protection provisions in the Broadcasting Act are duly enforced. In fact, during the past weeks the Authority has fined two television stations for breaching different provisions of the Act. 

One Television has been fined €2,330 when a segment of the breakfast show Bongu Bundy was deemed to have breached the provisions in the Broadcasting Act on surreptitious advertising. During this segment, what was supposed to be an educational slot on weight loss programmes was nothing more than a surreptitious advert for the commercial weight loss programmes provided by the same person who was invited to provide the ‘educational’ information. 

NET Television, on the other hand, was fined €1,160 when the programme Malta Llejla was deemed to have breached the provision in the Broadcasting Act which requires editorial content to be clearly distinguishable from advertising. In this particular case, footage shown in an information slot on home decor was again aired in an advert which immediately followed the information slot. 

It has to be pointed out that the amount of the fines imposed by the Authority for breaches of the Broadcasting Act are not discretionary, but are established in a Schedule to the same Act.   

Mario Axiak B.A.(Hons),   M.B.A.(Maastriucht), M.I.M.    

 11th November 2010

Head Research &   Communications      

   Ref 17/62