Before the children’s watershed hour, ads worshipping the “cult of the body” will no longer be allowed in Spain. But what concerns have driven this draconian move and just how far will the ban extend? Gerhard Volz of Schiller Abogados, Madrid explains.
Topic: Health and Beauty
Who: Spanish congress
When: Summer 2010?
Law stated as at: 23 October 2009
On January 7, 2010 the new “General Law of Audiovisual Communication” from October 23, 2009 passed the Spanish congress. In order to come into effect the law still needs to be approved by the Spanish senate.
The new law is not only transposing the EU "Audio Visual Media Services" Directive 2007/65/EC, but also intends to fill certain legal loopholes and update Spanish regulations to conform with current advertising practice in Spain.
Perhaps the most noteworthy aspects of this new law are the reduction of advertising time per hour and the limitation of “cult of the body” advertising on Spanish television.
Spain the first to ban models of under 18 BMI
It was in September 2006, before the fashion week in Madrid “Pasarela Cibeles,” that Spain became the first country to ban the participation in fashion shows of any model with a body mass index inferior to 18.
In 2007, the Spanish Health Ministry agreed with major fashion retailers that the mannequins in their stores would not have proportions smaller than a UK size 8.
Now this new law may be seen as a step further in fighting anorexia and bulimia, especially among minors.
While art 7.1. protects the use of the image, voice and data of minors in television, the second paragraph of said article states that “contents that may be harmful for the physical, mental or moral development of minors may only be broadcast between 10 PM and 6 AM and must be followed by an audio and visual indication.”
No "negative impact on self image" ads before 10pm
Within this timeframe it is not only prohibited to air programs that include pornographic content or violence, but also advertisements for products that encourage the cult of the body and have a negative impact on self-image, such as slimming products, surgery procedures and beauty treatments, which are based on ideas of social rejection as a result of one’s physical image.
Concerning slimming products, in Spain there is already a regulation: the Royal Decree number 1907/1996, for Advertising and Commercial Promotion of Products with Pretended Sanitary Function, Art. 4.2, prohibits any kind of advertising of products or methods with a pretended sanitary function that suggests specific slimming qualities.
Nevertheless the new law seems to be stricter, as any slimming product, not only those with pretended sanitary function and special qualities, is included.
Why this matters:
According to a first evaluation of the Spanish Association of Spanish Advertisers: “the legislator is not prohibiting any advertising of cult of the body products without any restrictions as otherwise even advertising of beauty products would be prohibited”.
We will have to wait and see how far the restriction of advertising of “slimming products, surgery procedures and beauty treatments” will be interpreted in the future. It also remains to be seen whether there will be a "domino" effect in other EU states or further afield.
But Spanish advertisers should consider themselves lucky: whilst this new law was in gestation, an even stricter ban on use of the word "light" for a broad range of foods and drinks such as light beer and Coke light was considered, but ultimately rejected, for now.
The full text of the project of the new “General Law of Audiovisual Communication” can be found here.
Gerhard W. Volz
Henri Dunant, 19
T: +34 914 179 780
F: +34 915 971 266