Kermit Booked for Illegal Advertising on German TV

 The Jim Henson Co.

COLOGNE, Germany - Kermit has run afoul of Germany's media authorities. ZAK, the federal commission charged with regulating the German airwaves, found Kermit guilty of illegal product placement in an appearance last year on commercial network Pro7.

The channel used the famous frog to present its so-called Disney Day of programming, which featured several family-friendly films. But Kermit also mentioned the theatrical release of Disney's The Muppets. Because the promo was not marked on screen as an ad, Pro7 violated German media law, which bans product placement unless clearly identified as such.  Pro7 has admitted the error.

In its most recent session, the ZAK also ruled against pay TV group Sky Deutschland for showing ads of sports betting site bwin during its broadcasts of German league soccer matches. Sky violated the German ban on gambling ads on television, ZAK ruled. Sky has argued the gambling ban does not apply to on air references to bwin, which are not traditional ad spots.

The media commission can not directly fine broadcasters for breaking advertising laws, so it is unclear whether the violations will have any legal consequences.

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