Sweden seeks ban on foreign booze advertising
The Local · 19 Dec 2014, 17:44
Published: 19 Dec 2014 17:44 GMT+01:00
Both the Swedish Consumer Agency (Konsumentverket) and the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency (Myndigheten) believe that broadcasters Viasat and SBS are circumventing the ban as they are licensed by Ofcom in the UK.
While Sweden has long had a total ban on televised alcohol commercials the rules are more lenient in Britain, where adverts for beer and spirits are common and feature prominently during commercial breaks for sports events.
"In Sweden the rules are quite clear. There is a complete ban on all forms of televised alcohol advertising but we have seen over the last few years a lot of adverts for alcohol being directed to the Swedish market on these channels," Cecilia Norlander, lawyer with the Swedish Consumer Agency, told The Local.
Viasat broadcasts the channels TV3, TV6, TV8 while SBS has the Kanal 5 and Kanal 9 channels. Although the channels are licensed by Britain's Ofcom they broadcast exclusively in the Swedish language to viewers in Sweden.
"These aren't English channels but programmes that are broadcast just for a Swedish audience in their native language. As such the broadcasters should follow the same rules as all the other channels and that is why we are requesting the European Commission to investigate the matter," added Norlander.
The two authorities have notified the European Commission to determine whether SBS or Viasat are breaking any legislation by broadcasting the alcohol advertising. If the commission confirms this is the case then both Konsumentverket and Myndigheten intend to sue the broadcasters in Swedish courts.
In 2012 the Swedish Broadcasting Commission (SBC) stated that it "found no reason to alter its previous view that the specified TV channels fall under British jurisdiction", to which Ofcom agrees.
Sweden's Broadcasting Authority (SBA) registered the query about the advertising back in 2012 after getting a complaint from the temperance society IOGT-NTO. The organization had demanded that the SBA take action to combat the alcohol advertising that was being targeted to Sweden.
The exact ruling governing alcohol advertising on the Swedish Radio and Television Broadcasting Act states; "Programmes in television broadcasts, [Teletext or in on-demand TV] may not be sponsored by any party whose principal activity is the manufacture [or sale] of alcoholic beverages [or tobacco products].
"Marketing of alcoholic beverages to consumers is not allowed in [radio- or] television-programmes [or ondemand TV]. This also applies to television broadcasts via satellite, subject to the Radio and Television Act."
Alcohol advertising is tightly controlled in Sweden with a print ban only lifted in 2005 after it was ruled that it violated European Union legislation.
"We've been working on this case for several years and we've been assured that the Commission will give us an answer within two months," Norlander told The Local.