Euro Court to rule in ad fight

BERLIN — A legal battle between German public and private webs over advertising will be turned over to the European Court, a Stuttgart judge ruled Wednesday.

Germany has legal restrictions on the number and length of commercial interruptions permitted for specific types of programs. Pubcaster ARD took private network Pro7 to court last year, charging that a movie broadcast on Pro7 was less than 90 minutes long, and therefore should have been interrupted only once instead of twice. Pro7 and other private webs want the “gross principle,” or movie length plus legally permitted ad time, to determine the number of commercial interruptions allowed.

Gross principle

All other European countries regulate TV advertising according to the gross principle, notes Juergen Doetz, managing director of private web SAT1 and head of the Assn. of Private Broadcasters and Telecommunications (VPRT). A decision to apply the net rather than the gross principle, Doetz warned, would be a “serious blow” to commercial networks in Germany, which draw their income almost exclusively from ad revenues. According to the VPRT, private webs stand to lose 300 million to 500 million marks ($168 million to $281 million) in ad coin a year if the courts decide in favor of ARD.

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