EC challenges Gallic ban

France's 1991 Evin Law prohibits TV alcohol ads

PARIS — The European Commission announced that it will take France to the European Court of Justice over disputes concerning alcohol advertising on TV.

Brussels has taken issue with France’s 1991 Evin Law, which, among other things, prohibits the promotion, direct or indirect, of alcohol brands on television. At the heart of the disagreement is the commission’s contention that the law negatively affects revenues of other EU countries when it comes to sporting events that are sponsored by alcohol brands.

The ’91 law prohibits the retransmission of these events and, the commission said, subsequently interferes with cross-border media sales services provided by the events’ organizers.

The EU added, “The commission also takes the view that these measures restrict alcoholic beverage producers from buying advertising and sponsorship services from sports events organizers in other member states.”

Complaints to the commission were made when France’s Conseil Superieur de l’Audiovisuel (CSA), a broadcasting watchdog, intervened to prevent the broadcasting of certain sporting events that took place in other EU member states. They did so on the grounds that there were advertising billboards for alcoholic drinks in the stadiums where the events took place.

“If this is a law that is applied universally, one that is equally restrictive to French alcohol brands as it is to those in the rest of the EU, then the commission might have a more difficult time establishing their case,” said Dennis Oswell, an EU lawyer at law firm Ashurst Morris Crisp in Brussels.

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