Germany’s ban on regional advertising within national channels could be contrary to European Law.
The European Court of Justice says the current total prohibition could go beyond what’s needed to maintain the supply of advertising on regional and local channels, particularly when regional advertising can be bought on the internet.
In 2018 Austrian fashion chain Fussl Modestraße Mayr wanted to advertise on the ProSiebenSat.1 group of channels, but only in the Bavaria region. However, ProSieben’s marketing agency SevenOne Media refused to conclude a deal on that basis.
It dates back to a 2016 State Treaty concluded by the German Länder (states) that has prohibited television broadcasters from regional ad insertion into national channels. The prohibition is accompanied by an ‘opening clause’, allowing the Länder to authorise regional advertising in the context of national broadcasts.
The regional court in Stuttgart is now looking into the Modestraße contract and sought a ruling from the ECJ.
The ECJ says the German rules could be quashed by the fact they apply only to national TV channels and not other outlets, such as the internet. While acknowledging the need to maintain the viability of local and regional channels, it says a less restrictive measure could result from the effective implementation of the authorisation system at the level of the Länder thanks to the opening clause in the legislation.
However, it wants Germany’s national court to have a say on whether internet advertising should be treated differently to TV.