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PUBLISHERS NOT CONSULTED ON PROPOSED TOBACCO AD BAN:

Added: (Tue Jun 19 2001)

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PUBLISHERS NOT CONSULTED ON PROPOSED TOBACCO AD BAN:
NEW PROPOSAL THREATENS ALL FORMS OF ADVERTISING, SAY EPC AND FAEP


Europe’s leading newspaper and magazine publishers of the European Publishers Council (EPC) and European Federation of Magazine Publishers (FAEP) are furious that they have been left out of the consultation process leading up to Commissioner Byrne’s decision to propose another draft directive to ban tobacco advertising in the EU. This ban would apply to advertising in newspapers, magazines and periodicals, on radio and the Internet but not to sponsorship and indirect advertising. A previous ban on tobacco advertising was recently overturned by the Court of Justice on the grounds that it was disproportionate and contrary to internal market rules.

Francisco Pinto Balsemao, Chairman of the EPC said: "We have written to Commissioner Byrne appealing to him to consider the wider implications for a pluralistic press. A directive designed to harmonise existing rules in Member States which bans press advertising will set a damaging precedent for the future freedom to advertise any product where divergent rules exist at national level and will threaten the free circulation of newspapers and magazines (in print and on the Internet) throughout the internal market of the EU. This ban would have serious financial implications for many publications in the EU."

The EPC and FAEP say that a ban in the press would create unfair competition between EU-based publishers and those outside the EU – whose publications would still be allowed to circulate freely. Furthermore, say Europe’s publishers, it is illogical to justify the proposed ban on health grounds when sports sponsorship, billboard advertising and other forms of promotion are allowed – all of which are known to be much more appealing to a younger audience – whilst tobacco advertising in the press should be banned.

Louis Croonen, Chairman of FAEP said: "The spirit of this proposal is contrary to Europe's long tradition of different media regulation, which caters for the cultural differences between the Member States, and which is safeguarded by the country of origin principle. We are disappointed that DG SANCO is once again attempting to push through a Directive that will have no effect on smoking, yet will have wide-reaching consequences for Europe's magazine and newspaper publishers. "

Mr Balsemao said: "The Court of Justice ruled that there are currently no obstacles to the importation of press products containing tobacco advertising. The EU Treaty guarantees free circulation of goods and services so long as they comply with the rules of country of origin. A statutory advertising ban would undermine the legal principle of mutual recognition and be totally disproportionate to its objective."

For further information, please contact Heidi Lambert Communications in Brussels on Tel: +322 732 5546 or Angela Mills in the UK on Tel: +44 1865 310 732.

ENDS.
14 June 2001







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