Sweden’s high court rules against ad breaks

Ruling is against TV 4 for interrupting features

STOCKHOLM — It isn’t everyday that courts rule on the side of artists, but last week there was reason for the latter to toast the judges of Sweden’s highest court.

The Supreme Administrative Court ruled that when pubcast TV4 took commercial breaks during the most thrilling moments of films “Leon” and “Clear and Present Deanger,” it violated the “integrity and the value” of the films.

Ruling stems from a suit filed against TV4 by the Swedish Broadcasting Commission (SBC), the national authority that overseas radio and TV broadcasts. A local court ruled for SBC, but TV4 successfully appealed, claiming that the film’s local distribs had allowed the breaks.

But the Supreme Administrative Court sided with SBC. While the fines are not high — $3,500 USD — the decision could have bearing on the future of features on TV4.

The channel has a history of controversy regarding commercial breaks. The most infamous is the break made in the middle of the rape scene in “Deliverance.”

Some filmmakers, including Claes Eriksson and Vilgot Sjoman, banned their films from ever being shown on TV4.

Also last week, a judge in Mexico City ruled that TV Azteca, the nation’s No. 2 web, violated copyright laws by changing the dialogue and score on two films it aired, Carlos Carrera’s 1991 “La mujer de Benjamin” (Benjamin’s Woman) and Gabriel Retes’ 1995 “Bienvenido” (Welcome), both multiple winners of Mexico’s highest film award, the Ariel.

TV Azteca will have to pay a fine, and air both films in their original formats.

The lawsuitwas supported by the Mexican Directors and Audio-Visual Creators Society.

(James Young in Mexico City contributed to this report)