B'casters revved up over pollution rule for car ads

EU mandate called 'disgraceful'

European commercial broadcasters on Wednesday branded as "disgraceful and unworkable" new measures by the European Parliament that will force carmakers to devote at least 20% of their television and cinema advertisements to showing how much their cars pollute.

Euro MPs voting in Strasbourg, France, earlier agreed to the tobacco-style health warnings, part of the European Union's effort to cut its greenhouse gas emissions.

But Michel Gregoire, secretary general of the European association of television sales houses (EGTA), slammed the vote as crude and misguided. "Not only is this overly simplistic but it is misleading to pretend that it could have an impact on CO2 emission levels," he said.

"I understand that the advertising industry collectively and, most importantly, car manufacturers have to do more on these issues," he said. "But imposing warnings and a long list of minute technical information to be displayed on every car advertisement is disgraceful and unworkable and will only serve to harm Europe's audiovisual sector."

The measures, drafted by British Liberal Democrat Euro MP Chris Davies, apply to television, film, print, radio and the Internet. They oblige carmakers to clearly state the vehicle's carbon dioxide emissions (grams per kilometer) and its fuel economy (liters per 100km driven).

"We give information to smokers about the effects of cigarettes, so why should we not insist that carmakers give customers more information about emissions from the vehicles they sell?" Davies said. "We want it clear, upfront, bold and brassy."

Davies said carmakers use advertising to shape consumer demand but have failed to shape it in an environmentally friendly way.

"The car industry is supposed to be drawing up a voluntary code of advertising conduct," he said, "but we have had our fingers burnt through voluntary codes, and any such measure should be regarded with suspicion."
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