The general principles that govern the content of television programmes also apply to advertising. Advertising must therefore not include discrimination based on sex, racial or ethnic origin, nationality, religion or beliefs, disability, age or sexual orientation. ALIA also monitors advertising for any violent, erotic or pornographic content, especially to ensure the protection of minors.
All forms of television advertising and teleshopping should be readily recognisable as such. They should be easily distinguishable from other programming content by optical, acoustic or spatial means. Isolated television advertising and teleshopping spots are permitted during sports events. In other cases, they must be exceptional.
Television advertisements for medicinal products and medical treatments are prohibited, as is any form of audiovisual commercial communication for cigarettes and other tobacco products as well as for electronic cigarettes and refill bottles. Advertising for alcoholic beverages is authorised under certain conditions.
Advertising must not directly exhort minors to buy a product.
The insertion of television advertising or teleshopping should not jeopardise the integrity of programmes; it should take into account any natural breaks as well as the duration and nature of the programmes.
The transmission of films made for television (excluding series, serials and documentaries), cinematographic works and news programmes may be interrupted by television advertising and/or teleshopping once for each scheduled period of at least 30 minutes.
The transmission of children’s programmes may be interrupted by television advertising once for each scheduled period of at least 30 minutes, provided that the scheduled duration of the programme is greater than 30 minutes. No television advertising or teleshopping may be inserted during religious services.
As far as teleshopping is concerned, it must have a minimum uninterrupted duration of fifteen minutes.
The proportion of television advertising spots and teleshopping spots during the period between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. shall not exceed 20% of this period. The proportion of TV advertising and teleshopping spots in the period between 18 and 24 hours does not exceed 20% of this period. However, this rule does not apply to all broadcast content. The following are excluded from its scope: messages broadcast by the broadcaster in connection with its own programmes and ancillary products directly derived from those programmes, or with the programmes and audiovisual media services of other entities belonging to the same broadcasting group; sponsorship announcements; product placements; neutral boxes inserted between editorial content and television advertising or teleshopping spots and between each spot.
Product placement is a form of advertising in which a product, service or brand is incorporated into a television programme or in user-generated content, rather than being broadcast between programmes (as with conventional advertising).
This practice has been used in broadcasting for many years, but the legal framework for product placement was only established with the European Directive of 11 December 2007 on Audiovisual Media Services, which was transposed into national law in 2008.
In 2007, the fundamental principle of the Directive was to prohibit product placement and to allow it only under certain conditions. Today, the revised Audiovisual Media Services Directive of 14 November 2018 observes that the general prohibition of product placement did not provide the expected legal certainty. Henceforth, it is therefore allowed in all audiovisual media services produced after 19 December 2009, with some exceptions. These exceptions concern news and current affairs programs, consumer programs, religious programs and children's programs.
Programmes containing product placement should not be influenced in such a way as to affect the responsibility and editorial independence of the media service provider.
Finally, programmes should not directly exhort viewers to buy or hire products or services being advertised, make special promotional references to these products or give them undue prominence.
Sponsorship refers to the practice whereby a company or legal person contributes to the funding of an audiovisual media service, a video-sharing platform service, user-generated videos or programmes with the aim of promoting its name, brand, image, activities or products.
Viewers should be clearly informed of the existence of a sponsorship agreement, for example by a reference to the product or service or a distinctive sign, at the beginning, during or at the end of the programme.
As with product placement, the responsibility and editorial independence of the television channel must be maintained. Sponsorship should not directly exhort viewers to buy or hire goods or services or encourage behaviour that is harmful to health and safety or to environmental protection.
Sponsorship by companies producing cigarettes and other tobacco products as well as electronic cigarettes and refill bottles is prohibited. Companies that produce or sell medicinal products and offer medical treatment may promote their name, but the promotion of medicinal products or specific medical treatment available only on prescription is prohibited.
News and current affairs programmes may not be sponsored.
Teleshopping refers to direct offers broadcast to the public for goods or services in return for payment.
If teleshopping is inserted during programmes, the integrity of the programmes must not be jeopardised. The transmission of films made for television, cinematographic works and news programmes may be interrupted by teleshopping once for each scheduled period of at least 30 minutes. Children's programmes may however not be interrupted by teleshopping, only by television advertising and only if the programme lasts longer than 30 minutes.
Teleshopping for medicinal products or medical treatments is prohibited. Alcoholic beverages may be featured in teleshopping under certain conditions.
Surreptitious advertising occurs when, in addition to the screen time reserved for advertising, goods, services or other brands are presented on screen and intended to serve advertising purposes. These messages are not broadcast for the purposes of informing the public but for promotional purposes; they may therefore mislead the public as to their nature. It is considered intentional in particular when it is done in return for payment or other consideration.
Surreptitious advertising is prohibited.