Broadcasting Authority Of Ireland's Revised Communications Code Comes Into Effect Today, 1 June 2017

Author:Ms Sharon Daly, April McClements and Michael Byrne

On 28 March 2017, the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland ("BAI") published a revised version of its General Commercial Communications Code (the "Code"). The revised Code sets out the rules that Irish radio and television stations must comply with when airing advertising, sponsorship, product placement and other forms of commercial communications. The revised Code comes into effect today, 1 June 2017.

The revised Code introduces a number of key changes which will impact a number of sectors, including financial services and food and beverages.

These changes include:

Revised rules relating to Alcohol Products

The revised Code provides that a broadcaster shall "identify the programmes in their schedules that do not carry commercial communications for alcoholic beverages, in particular, children's programmes, and shall publish this list on a website maintained by the broadcaster and make a copy of the list generally available." Furthermore, each broadcaster shall "enforce a Code of Conduct for their presenters ensuring that speech content that glamorises or encourages over-consumption or misuse of alcohol is prevented." In addition, alcohol sponsorship of sports bulletins, programmes and competitions within sports programmes is no longer permitted.

Revised rules relating to Food, Nutrition and Health

The revised Code adds safeguards in commercial communications relating to food items by providing that "The use of nutrition and health claims in commercial communications shall only be permitted if the average consumer can be expected to understand the beneficial effects as expressed in the claim."

In particular, the use of nutrition and health claims shall not:

"Be false, ambiguous or misleading; Give rise to doubt about the safety and / or the nutritional adequacy of other foods; Encourage or condone excess consumption of a food; State, suggest or imply that a balanced and varied diet cannot provide appropriate quantities of nutrients in general, subject to derogations provided for by European law; or, Refer to changes in bodily functions which could give rise to or exploit fear in the consumer". 

Commercial Communications involving health claims shall include all of the following

A statement indicating the importance of a varied and balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle; The quantity of the food and pattern of consumption required to obtain the claimed beneficial effect; Where appropriate, a statement addressed to persons who should avoid using...

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