Commercial messages

Article 203 (20) of the Media Act contains the precise definition of “commercial communication”, which is an umbrella term that covers special forms such as advertising, sponsorship and product placement.

The legislation defines how commercial communications may be published and establishes restrictions on their content. In this category, the Authority checks the fulfilment of the obligation that commercial communications must be recognizable and distinguishable. Breaches of the requirement for recognizability and distinguishability include, among others, the publication of advertisements without marking them as such and the publication of hidden commercial communications; the latter occurs when content may mislead the public by its disclosure, i.e. if it is shown on the screen without disclosing that it serves commercial interests. The requirements for content represent general criteria regarding commercial communications. An example is the rule that commercial communications must not violate human dignity; other requirements protect minors.

In addition to the above, the Authority regularly checks any sudden changes in the sound levels of radio stations and television channels and the permitted quantity of commercial advertising. Advertisements may be broadcast by commercial media service providers for no more than 12 minutes every hour, by public media service providers for no more than 8 minutes an hour and by community media service providers for no more than 6 minutes an hour, but this limitation does not include sponsor messages, product placements or public service advertisements.

The Authority regularly monitors compliance with the rules on sponsorship and product placement. It conducts special target audits to analyze this aspect of the programmes produced by nationwide television channels. The law permits embedding sponsorship and product placement simultaneously in a programme but Article 20 (9) of the Press and Media Act states that the sponsored media content must not encourage or call for the purchase or use of the products or services of the sponsor; according to Article 31 (1) (b) and (c) of the Media Act, programmes containing product placement must not directly solicit the purchase of the product (service) nor give emphasis to the product (service) presented to an extent that is not justified by the content of the programme.