Media companies appeal car ad rule changes

Proposals may threaten viability of the media

BRUSSELS -- European media companies have appealed to the European Commission to scrap planned rules that would force carmakers to devote at least 20% of their television and cinema advertisements to showing how much the car pollutes.

They say the proposals threaten the economic viability of the media. "Advertising is vital to maintaining a vibrant, independent and diverse media landscape in Europe, and car advertising accounts for up to 20% of advertising revenues," said Francisco Pinto Balsemao, chairman of the European Publishers Council, which represents broadcasters and publishers.

He said that with rising fuel prices, there is already a growing demand for low-emission, fuel-efficient cars. "More and more cars are produced and marketed on this basis, so there is no need for the regulators to step in," he said.

In October, the European Parliament voted for the tobacco-style health warnings as part of the European Union's effort to cut its greenhouse gas emissions. The measures, drafted by British Liberal Democrat Euro MP Chris Davies, apply to television, cinema, 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).