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April 2002

The issue:

Whilst there is currently no draft legislation specifically restricting advertising to children, the issue is raised frequently by Member States which have their own national bans. The European Commission's Consumer Committee at DG SANCO has recently come up with a paper which calls for widescale bans and restrictions of promotional marketing, advertising and communications within schools, the portrayal of children in advertising, the internet and market research.

It also talks of the need to introduce widespread horizontal legislation at a European level based on maximum harmonization. The paper attacks the country of origin principle which lies at the heart of the TV Without Frontiers Directive. This committee is advisory only and does not represent the official line of DG SANCO but it is nevertheless influential. To read the report, go to

In Commissioner Byrne's Green Paper on Consumer Protection (Duty to Trade Fairly), it asserts that certain forms of advertising are inherently unfair, like marketing to children. Inevitably, this area would end up more heavily regulated if this proposal went through to a directive unless the Commission can be convinced that alternative, self-regulatory measures can meet their policy objectives.

Commissioner Reding, responsible for audiovisual policy, remains opposed to a ban.

To read her speech on the issue, presented at an EPC event, go to;=SPEECH/00/388|0|AGED≶=EN

For information on the legal status in the member states, go to

Latest from Denmark:

Danish U-turn favours children's advertising

The newly-elected Danish government has reversed the previous administration's ban on advertising aimed at children which was introduced in January 2000. This move has been welcomed by domestic TV networks which have been struggling to compete with foreign channels available in Denmark - who, under country of origin rule, are permitted to carry children's advertising if it is legal in the broadcasting country.

Denmark takes over the EU Presidency in July as the debate on the revision of the TV Without Frontiers Directive hots up. This latest news will be a set-back to a Norwegian plan to form a Nordic coalition to promote a pan-European ban on children's advertising. Sweden and Finland both remain in favour of a ban.

EPC position:

The EPC is opposed to a ban on advertising to children and favours instead the use of self-regulatory codes at national level which allow for cultural differences whilst protecting minors from harmful or misleading advertising.

Links to reports on children's advertising:

For detailed background, go to

Key players:

Commissioner Viviane Reding
Commissioner David Byrne

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