IRIS Plus 2010-3: Product Placement

Author: Christina Angelopoulos, Institute for Information Law (IViR), University of Amsterdam

Published: 01/05/2010

There are areas of law that are so complex that legislators evidently find it hard to get to grips with them, and one of these areas is presumably product placement. The starting-point for the harmonisation of national solutions, which was the aim of the Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMSD), was itself a complicated matter. Despite the legal framework laid down by the “Television without Frontiers” Directive, there was a (presumably correct) impression that product placement was neither really prohibited nor really permitted under EU law. The result was that it was allowed in Austria but banned in Germany but could at any rate be seen on EU TV screens in some American films.

In view of the complexity of this subject (and the EU rules), we believed it was necessary to publish this IRIS plus in order to reconcile the provisions on ”product placement” with what is becoming product placement practice. The lead article accordingly takes a very thorough look at the genesis, structure, purpose and wording of the new EU provisions and their possible interpretations. By way of illustration, some of the first instances of the transposition of the EU rules into national law are examined where possible. More concrete examples of national rules – and their application – can be found in the Related Reporting section. The Zoom completes the data currently available (early April 2010) on rules concerning product placement in the EU member states, with references to national implementation rules and their wording.

Finally, it should also be mentioned that the provisions of the AVMSD on product placement were numbered until recently as Article 3g. Following the renumbering, which was published in the Official Journal of the EU (L 95/1) on 15 April 2010 as the codified version (Directive 2010/13/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 10 March 2010 on the coordination of certain provisions laid down by law, regulation or administrative action in Member States concerning the provision of audiovisual media services (Audiovisual Media Services Directive)), they have become Article 11, but there has been no change in the wording. References to the Directive in this IRIS plus may therefore contain the former number of Article 11 (and other rules) of the Directive.

When reading the AVMDS, I naturally recommend that this IRIS plus be held at the ready as a means of orientation.