Court OKs TV ad limits

ECJ rules commercial time depends on program time

BRUSSELS — An effort by leading German private broadcasters to win more time for ads has been defeated in the European Court of Justice (ECJ).

The ECJ is the European Union’s highest court and the case is now closed. ARD, a consortium of 11 public broadcasters in Germany, had sued private broadcaster ProSieben for breaching German rules on advertising. ProSieben was backed by German broadcasting giants SAT.1 and Kabel 1.

The private broadcasters had defended their right to put on more commercials than allowed by German rules by claiming that EU laws in this area overruled German requirements.

However, the ECJ came down in favor of ARD’s complaint. The court decided that an EU member state may impose rules that restrict the number of ad interruptions in films broadcast on TV without violating EU laws.

Under EU rules on TV advertising, the number of commercial interruptions allowed is calculated by the scheduled duration of a program. Movies and TV movies may be interrupted once for each 45-minute period.