AER Position on Gambling Advertising – 2013


Commercially funded radio depends almost 100% on advertising: adding advertising restrictions equates to fewer and poorer free-to-air programmes. Introducing information messages in radio advertising is not the appropriate tool to enable improved consumer information, in order to allow well-informed purchase decisions.

In the particular case of gambling, advertising should not be generally prohibited. Its main objective is to strengthen regulated gambling services and guide consumers towards these services. In this field, it is essential to focus on the prohibition of misleading advertising and advertising directed to underage. Further measures can be provided by means of self-regulation.

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 main viable business model for the majority of existing radios is free-to-air broadcasting. 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 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, and social inclusion.

Radio advertising investments are decreasing in many EU Member States – This is mainly due to two factors: the current economic downturn; and a shift of advertising investments from “old media” towards “new media”. These factors have lead radio to extend its presence on different platforms in attempts to seek new revenues.

The radio industry cannot cope with advertising bans and restrictions – Any kind of advertising restriction has a negative financial impact on commercially funded media. As private radio companies in Europe are still funded almost exclusively by advertising, any additional legal constraint would severely endanger radios’ ability to pursue a viable economic activity. This would threaten media pluralism to the detriment of radio listeners across Europe. This is especially true for radical measures such as advertising bans.

Advertising is already regulated by strict rules set at EU and national level, usefully complemented by self-regulation – Self-regulation schemes for gambling advertising at national level ensure that there is no advertising targeted to underage and that advertising should not be misleading and, especially, not portray unrealistic situations (such as gambling being the appropriate manner to solve financial problems).

Additional information in radio advertising is bound to miss its aim: informing the consumer – Imposing information requirements in radio advertising does not appear to be an effective way to achieve the laudable political objective of informing the consumer. Empirical data showed that warning messages were considered as “oppressive”, and lead listeners to “tune out” metaphorically, if not literally, in the worst case scenario. Information is more useful when the decision is taken to perform the purchase at a later stage.

Radio is a non-visual medium: information requirements in advertising are particularly burdensome – When considering information requirements in advertising and their likely effects, the specificities of each medium need to be properly taken into account. Radio is a non-visual linear medium, which consequently means that detailed messages require more broadcast time, and therefore higher price. In addition, 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. So there should be no compulsory warning messages, labeling or links to be provided in radio advertising.

There should be no watersheds – Radio has one, maybe two, peak listening times during the day – ‘breakfast’ (between 6 and 9AM) and ‘drive’ (between 4 to 6PM). Setting a watershed would severely impact radio revenues. It would be more efficient to ensure that no advertising for gambling is directed at children, or at times when shows dedicated to children are broadcast.

Created in 1992, the Association of European Radios (AER) is a trade-association representing the interests of over 4500 private and commercial radio broadcasters across Europe to the EU institutions. It is the only organisation representing only radio to the EU Institutions.


Vincent Sneed, AER Manager, vincent.sneed(Replace this parenthesis with the @ sign)