Euro helmers against product placement

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BRUSSELS -- European film directors group FERA has appealed to EU national governments to ban product placement when they implement the EU's newly adopted broadcasting reforms.

The European Parliament on Wednesday voted to clear the reform that updates the EU's broadcasting rules for the Internet era and paves the way for branded products to make their way onto European screens.

But FERA, which encompasses 38 director associations in 28 European countries, appealed to national governments to limit the scope of the EU's new Audiovisual Media Services Directive when it comes to transferring it into national law.

"FERA insists on the flexibility given to the member states when implementing the directive," the group said. "The implementation stage gives the opportunity to strengthen some provisions of the directive on one hand and to reduce the negative impact of some articles on the creation, promotion and on the integrity of European works on the other hand."

Controversially, FERA called on national governments to ignore the provision allowing product placement, in spite of a delicate, two-year negotiation between the European Commission, EU governments and the European Parliament to legalize the measure.

The broadcasting reforms still allow national governments the option of barring product placement from their screens.

"FERA recommends that product placement is prohibited or at least that its use be strictly controlled," FERA said. "Product placement should not prejudice the artistic freedom of authors and viewers must be given clear information on product placement, whatever the origin of the program."

The new directive allows advertising breaks every 30 minutes, but FERA also called on governments to ignore this provision and maintain a 45-minute rule or a complete ban on advertising breaks in films.

Governments are encouraged under the new rules to promote European works through on-demand services.

But FERA said they should giving precise details of these measures promotions operate, either through financial contributions, or by raising the share or prominence of European works in the catalogs.

"The financial contribution of on-demand services could consist in the obligation to invest a share of the (profit) of the service concerned in the production and rights acquisition of European works and/or by contributing to the national film and audiovisual production fund," FERA said. "Alternatively or simultaneously, catalogs should contain an important proportion of European works."
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