EC Relaxes Ad Limits To Save Struggling News Publishers

Throwing a small lifeline to newspapers coping with the twin pressures of digital investment and falling print revenue, European media commissioner Viviane Reding pledged: “There should be no new advertising bans at EU level, as these could hit in a disproportionate manner the media and especially the written press. I will therefore continue to oppose all initiatives aimed at introducing new EU advertising bans for alcohol, for car advertising or for sweets.”

That’s her centrepiece commitment as she meets today to discuss digital business models and media plurality with editors-in-chief of nine European newspapers, including Le Monde, which is trying to reshape for the digital age by shedding staff but struggling with French labour laws and its own ownership structure. But it’s also at odds with policy in boozy Britain, where new law came in to force this week limiting alcohol advertising to 25 percent of publishers’ available inventory and there’s likely to be a clamour for further tightening.

Questions Reding is asking: “Is the press maintaining high editorial standards online or is there a rush to be first with the news at all costs? Are print journalists being forced to take on too many roles in the multi-platform world of print, web, podcast and video clip and, if so, is quality suffering?”

No firm policy answers are likely emerge today from what is merely an industry consultation, but it at least gives Reding an opportnity to hear the challenges being faced by European news publishers.