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EU ministers OK changes to broadcast rules

May 25, 2007 at 11:26 AM

BRUSSELS, May 25 (UPI) -- European Union ministers approved changes to Europe's broadcasting laws, giving greater leeway to ad breaks and product placement.

The decision by EU audiovisual ministers in Brussels ends debate on reforms aimed to align European broadcasting with technologies as the Internet, mobile and on-demand services, Hollywood Reporter reported Friday.

Among the rules changed are those regarding product placement on European TV, severely restricted until now. Under the new law, governments can ban product placement only in news, children's programs and documentaries.

The ministers also agreed that, while ads will remain capped at 12 minutes per hour, the frequency of program interruptions won't be regulated.

The reforms left intact the rule that broadcasters to be regulated in their country of origin.

Viviane Reding, EU Audiovisual and Media commissioner, said the rules updating the 1989 Television Without Frontiers directive will help promote European content and spur development of new services.

"It promises less regulation, better financing for European content and higher visibility to Europe's key values, cultural diversity and the protection of minors," she said.

The laws take effect before the end of 2007. EU governments have two years to adopt the new rules into national law.

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