10 January 2018 – AER’S COMMENTS ON THE REVIEW OF THE TYRES LABELLING REGULATION
The Association of European Radios (AER) is a Europe-wide trade body representing the interest of over 4’500 commercially-funded radio stations across the EU28 and in Switzerland. As such, AER should be classified in this public consultation as an organisation representing industry views.
AER is located at:
Association Européenne des Radios
Rue des Deux églises, 26
AER’s Interest Representative Register ID Number is 6822083232-32.
On October 10th, 2017, the European Commission published a Public Consultation on the review of the Tyres Labelling Regulationi. AER welcomes this new consultation.
As tyres are characterised by a number of parameters which are interrelated, improving one parameter may have an adverse impact on others. Those issues are essential, especially when it comes to road safety and to the customer’s welfare. In that sense, AER supports the principle of helping consumers to make informed choices when purchasing tyres or a product containing tyres.
In the current Tyres Labelling Regulation No 1222/2009, obligations are imposed on the vehicles suppliers and vehicle distributors in article 6. The latter are, inter alia, responsible for providing end-users with information for each of the tyres offered. In addition, it is stressed that this information shall be at least included in the technical promotional material. An exception is however made in Recital 18 which outlines that this obligation does not include advertisement in radio broadcasting formats.
AER supports the current phrasing and calls for the European Commission to maintain it.
Indeed, AER believes that, especially when it comes to radio, advertising is not the right place to insert detailed information. It does not and cannot provide all information necessary for the final purchase decision. The consumers’ decision is based on many other sources, such as brochures and websites, and information collected at the point of sale. Information is therefore much more useful to the consumer in dedicated information materiel, at the point of sale or online, when the decision to purchase is being performed.
AER questions the effectiveness of mandatory information in media in general, and especially on the radio. In the spirit of Better Regulation, AER would like to stress that the arguments set forward in this submission can be transposed to any piece of regulation dealing with advertising, especially with regard to radio: advertising is not the right place to insert detailed information. This argument is particularly relevant, considering the recently adopted Energy Labelling Regulationii, where radio was singled-out and recognised as different from any other medium when it comes to terms and conditions / warning messages inserted in advertising.
AER can only answer in an efficient manner the question set forth by the public consultation with regard to advertising (question 12).
Question 12. Raising awareness. The study found that some consumers and organisations were not aware of tyre labelling or the benefits of investing in fuel-efficient tyres. Which of the following options (if any) would you like to see included in the Regulation in order to raise awareness?
Whilst AER believes it is key to help consumers in making informed choices when purchasing tyres or a product containing tyresiii, it rejects the idea of extending the label’s display to advertising. Indeed, findings show that consumers, when searching for detailed information before making a purchase decision, do not seek such information in advertising.
Information is perceived to be much more useful at a later stage than when advertising: through websites, in information brochures or at the point of sale – Information is more useful when the decision is taken to perform the purchase.
Besides, radio is a non-visual medium: warning requirements / terms and conditions (or labels) in advertising are particularly burdensome – when detailed messages are to be communicated in an advertisement, these are to be broadcast in an added time-space to the latter. This increases the amount of time, hence the price, of the considered commercial message. In addition, needless to say, it lessens the commercial impact of the advertisement (a usual ad lasts for 15-40 seconds). These combined effects impact broadcast media, and radio in particular, and constitute factors that can deter advertisers away from using radio.
However, commercially funded radio can only broadcast programmes free of charge to millions of European citizens thanks to the revenues it collects by means of advertising – The only viable business model for radio nowadays and for a foreseeable future is broadcasting of free-to-air programmes. Advertising is the prerequisite to produce useful and attractive content, and to ensure radio is the most intimate medium. Radio listeners can thereby access for free to entertaining and informative content. In that sense, radio plays a fundamental role in today’s society: it is entrusted with many public interest obligations, and it is an essential actor of cultural diversity, media pluralism, access to creativity, social inclusion and disaster relief.
Inserting compulsory information / labels / terms and conditions in advertising, and especially radio advertising, does not only hinder commercially funded radios’ ability to produce content, it is also bound to miss its aim – informing the consumeriv.
Consequently, AER calls for the status quo regarding advertising rules contained in the Tyre Labelling Regulation: i.e. no labels or terms and conditions inserted in tyre advertisements in billboards, newspapers, magazines, radio broadcasting, television and similar online formats.
Radios consist of a myriad of small and medium sized enterprises. Moreover, on-air broadcasting radios reach massive audience on a daily basis in all EU Member States: 80% of the EU population on average listens to radio for at least 2 or 3 hours per day, as shown by national audience measurement. Commercially-funded radios indeed constitute a unique network of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), contributing to cultural diversity, media pluralism, access to creativity, social inclusion. They also offer free-to-air services of general interest:
- they evolve in highly competitive environmentsv
- their programmes encompass, broadly speaking, all possible formats, from debates to music-onlyvi
- As for the music broadcast, within one market, as soon as there is demand expressed, it has to be fulfilled; so, most of the musical expressions are represented
- most of them are non-politically affiliated, and certainly keep the freedom to express their opinion or to participate to the public expression of the opinions of their listeners
- their audiences are local, regional, or national
- they strive to develop on all possible platforms
- during natural, major or minor disasters, radio is one of the first tool to inform the publicvii
Radio is the most intimate medium, and has been so for the past 50 years at least: it is indeed ubiquitous, mobile, simple-to-use and free-to-air. All these features enable our audience to cultivate a personal relationship with our programmes, our DJs, our hosts, and our brands. Our listeners thereby access programming they enjoy, and useful informationviii.
AER remains available to explain this position in further details, should this be helpful for the European Commission.
Director Regulatory Affairs
Rue des Deux églises, 26
Vincent.sneed(Replace this parenthesis with the @ sign)aereurope.org
ii See the Regulation setting a framework for energy labelling: http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX:32017R1369[i]
iiiSo, AER could support for instance “Encourage Member States to run awareness campaigns to increase consumer knowledge of the tyre labelling scheme”
ivSee for instance: European Commission commissioned “Report on the implementation of Directive 1999/94/EC relating to the availability of consumer information on fuel economy and CO2 emissions in respect of the marketing of new passenger cars” was published on March 19th, 2012. The study conclusions state (page 113) that “With respect to audio media, such as radio or audio on the internet […], evidence suggests that consumers pay little attention to these, so extending the provisions of the Directive to radio and audio on the internet in an effective manner does not appear to be feasible.” Please see here: http://ec.europa.eu/clima/sites/clima/files/policies/transport/vehicles/labelling/docs/final_report_2012_en.pdf
Other European Commission commissioned studies show how little mandatory information in radio advertising is used to obtain information before acquiring a good or a service, for instance in the case of consumer credit information, the “Study on the functioning of the consumer credit market in Europe” was published in 2013 – please note that the only times results for radio advertising are presented alone are in table 75, page 169, and in table 189, page 346: http://ec.europa.eu/consumers/archive/rights/docs/consumer_credit_market_study_en.pdf
On a neighbouring issue, since 2013, Radiocentre in the UK, has invested in a detailed programme of research to further understand and quantify the effect of these lengthy terms and conditions on consumer perceptions and recall. This includes the commissioning of three online panel surveys between 2013 and 2016 of 3’200 commercial radio listeners in total, measuring consumer perceptions and testing recall of important figures from the standard information required by the Consumer Credit Directive. The programme also included a partnership with Lancaster University in 2016/17 which explored the extent to which listeners absorb financial information in radio ads when engaged in other tasks and also measure how lengthy terms and conditions affect not only recall but also brand trust. See here: http://www.radiocentre.org/about/terms-and-conditions/
v For example, and bearing in mind that the amount of radios in a given country depends of course on its size: Spain has more than 2000 frequencies used across the country; similar FM overcrowded situations can be observed in France or Germany.
vi To give just examples, please see:
– the French AER Member, SIRTI : http://www.sirti.info/adherents/
– the UK AER Member, RadioCentre: http://www.radiocentre.org/membership/member-list-2017/
vii For example: In December 2015, in the UK, The Bay highlighted how local content remains important no matter where a commercial station broadcasts. The station provided unrivalled coverage during the floods. This vital broadcast was rightly recognised by former Prime Minister David Cameron at a ‘Flood Heroes’ reception in Downing Street as an exceptional asset to the community in its time of need. The Bay also received official recognition in Parliament; from Lancashire Police Constabulary; and an Arqiva Commercial Radio Award. For more information, please see here (pages 10 and following): http://www.radiocentre.org/policy/publicationsandreports/actionstations/
viii For instance, in the UK, Commercial stations broadcast an average 13 hours 15 minutes of public service content each week (news and sport, travel, weather, charity appeals, local events). For instance, in 2015, commercial radio exemplified its public value when it provided extraordinary coverage during the winter floods in Northern England. Throughout a period of devastating flooding emergency services needed to be able to communicate with residents immediately. For more information, please see here (pages 9 and following): http://www.radiocentre.org/policy/publicationsandreports/actionstations/