The European Platform of Regulatory Authorities held its 23rd meeting in the Shakespearian setting of Elsinore, Denmark from the 18th to the 19th of May. The meeting involved about 130 participants from 37 countries and was hosted by the Danish Radio and Television Board. Forty-four regulatory authorities were represented and were joined by the permanent observers from the Council of Europe, the European Audiovisual Observatory and the European Commission.
The opening plenary session addressed the issue of political advertising on television. Four highly interesting examples were discussed, each of them illustrating a different facet of the topic. Issue advertising, i.e. non party political advertising spots emanating from societal and interest groups, and whether it is included in the scope of national bans applying to political advertising, is currently a focal point in Norway and the UK. However, even though the Norwegian Media Authority and the Ofcom have adopted a similar approach, they reach diverging conclusions. The Latvian example highlighted concrete problems raised by paid-for political advertising and the challenges posed for the national regulator with regard to ensuring an effective supervision of maximum expenditure thresholds and surreptitious advertising. The Italian cases focused on recent examples of violations in the allocation of free airtime during political and information programmes and the issue of appropriate sanctions.
Three working groups were held on the first day.
On the second day, following an update on European media policy by representatives from the European Commission and the Council of Europe, a plenary session was dedicated to the issue of data and information exchange between regulators. This informative session outlined the state of play of various co-operation networks at the bilateral, regional and supranational levels as well as useful tools for regulators, such as online discussion forums and repertories and databases of licensed broadcasters in Europe.
The next meeting of the EPRA is scheduled for 4-6 October 2006 in Dubrovnik, Croatia, at the invitation of the Council for Electronic Media.