On 1 November 2021, an amendment to the Broadcasting Act came into force. The changes are due to the need to implement Directive 2018/1808 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 14 November 2018. In addition to the provisions on the operation of video sharing platforms, or changes to the labelling of content harmful to minors, the new legislation also introduces some changes to commercial broadcasts. How have these been resolved in the amendment?
Limits on advertising and teleshopping
Under the current rules, advertising and telesales could not take up more than 12 minutes per clock hour. The amendment made changes to this by replacing them with specific time slots. From 1 November 2021, the total broadcasting time of commercials between 6:00 and 18:00 may not exceed 144 minutes, and between 18:00 and 24:00 may not exceed 72 minutes. In the hours between 24:00 and 6:00, the limits have been completely abolished.
The amendment also changes the rules for placing so-called own announcements of the broadcaster. Until now, such announcements were included in the limits for commercials and telesales. Now the legislator has excluded such transmissions from the general limit, while maintaining that the broadcaster’s own announcements may be broadcast only between programmes.
There has been little change to the rules on interrupting the broadcast of sports competitions. Following the entry into force of the amendment, it is now possible to interrupt broadcasts in order to transmit a single advertisement. The purpose of this regulation is to enable the insertion of single commercials during natural breaks in competitions which do not result from the rules of the competition. Another new feature is the possibility to interrupt children’s programmes which last more than one hour.
Product placement and sponsorship
The interpretation of the rules on product placement is greatly facilitated by replacing the general ban on product placement with a regulation allowing for placement as a matter of principle, from which certain exceptions are provided for. These exceptions include news services (excluding sports and weather reports), socio-political programmes, consumer affairs programmes, religious programmes and children’s programmes.
The scope of permissible placement remains de facto unchanged, however, as a result of permitting placement as a rule, any doubts concerning a given placement should from now on be considered in favour of the placement provider. It should also be emphasised that nothing has changed with regard to the labelling of programmes in which product placement occurs. The ban on undue prominence, direct exhortation to purchase a product or rental of goods has also been retained.
Minor changes have also been made to the rules on sponsorship information. Previously, it had to be presented before and after the programme, and when it was resumed after an advertising break. Now this information is presented only twice:
1) at the beginning of the programme and
2) on resumption of the programme or other transmission after an advertising or teleshopping break or at the end of the programme or other transmission.
The broadcaster will decide at which point it presents the second sponsorship information.
Ban on advertising of electronic cigarettes
The already existing general prohibition on broadcasting commercial communications of tobacco products and tobacco props, products that imitate tobacco products or tobacco props, and symbols related to tobacco use has been extended. Following the entry into force of the amendment, it is not possible to broadcast commercial communications purporting to relate to electronic cigarettes and spare containers.
The amendment does not fundamentally alter the current regulation of commercial communications. However, the tidying up of the existing rules on product placement is a positive development, while the liberalisation of advertising and teleshopping limits gives broadcasters more freedom to set their own advertising policies and compete with VOD and video sharing platforms, which are gaining in importance.
 Directive 2018/1808 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 14 November 2018 amending Directive 2010/13/EU on the coordination of certain provisions laid down by law, regulation or administrative action in Member States concerning the provision of audiovisual media services.
Paweł Myrda – attorney at law. He specializes in intellectual property law, especially copyright, as well as protection of personal rights of natural persons and business entities.
Marlena Kudła – trainee at LSW Leśnodorski Ślusarek and Patners.