CitationDownload as .RIS
Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Child advertising in Turkey
Article Type: Legal briefing From: Young Consumers, Volume 13, Issue 1
The rules with regard to child advertising primarily exist in the “Regulation on the Principles and Fundamentals of Practices Regarding the Commercial Advertisements and Announcements” (hereinafter referred as “Advertising Regulation”), as well as the “Law on Fundamentals and Procedures of Broadcast of Radio and Television Establishments numbered 6112” (hereinafter referred as “RTUK Law”) and “Regulation on Fundamentals and Procedures of Broadcasting Services numbered 28103” (hereinafter referred as “RTUK Regulation”). The RTUK Law and the RTUK Regulation have recently been amended and took effect in Turkey after being published in the Official Gazette on March 3, 2011 and November 2, 2011 respectively. With an overview on both the RTUK Law and the RTUK Regulation, the child advertisement related provisions are parallel indeed but are more detailed in the RTUK Regulation.
The RTUK Law and the RTUK Regulation are mostly in compliance with the “European Convention on Transfrontier Television” ratified in 1992 and duly adopted in 1994. However, child advertising related provisions do not have a desired status yet.
In this overview we will initially mention the child related provisions at first and then the general practice of the authorized governmental bodies in the child advertising area.
Child ads related provisions
As pointed out above, both RTUK Law and RTUK Regulation set out principles related to child advertisements and these principles generally demonstrate a certain parallelism. However, while the former RTUK Regulation had a definition for child advertisement as “ads on services and products used by fifteen or less year-old viewers”, the newly introduced RTUK Regulation does not have a definition like the new RTUK Law. Nevertheless, the Advertising Regulation provides a scope for child advertisement as “ads related to children and teenagers who are not majors (minors – less than 18 years of age for Turkey) or ads where children or minors can be affected or wherein children and minors are used”.
Among the above-mentioned regulations, the Advertising Regulation covers all advertisements irrespective of the nature of the medium. Both the RTUK Law and the RTUK Regulation treat advertising principles as well but they mainly treat the general broadcasting issues like broadcasting periods, principles, techniques, broadcasting licenses, satellite broadcasting etc.
All the above mentioned legal texts set forth that commercial advertisements must not abuse the mental and psychological development of children by using their lack of experience and immaturity. Apart from this general provision, the child advertisement related provisions regulated in a major parallelism in both regulations and the RTUK Law which can be summarized as follows:
In the advertisements sensitivities of children should be taken into consideration.
The subtitle, frame and direct selling ad techniques cannot be used within child oriented programmes.
The ads should not create an impression such as having the advertised product would provide superiority from physical, social and psychological aspects.
It is forbidden to include violent aspects in the ad that children can imitate.
Advertisement of product or services that cannot be used directly by children should not include any views or expressions of children.
The ads should not contain any statements, images or presentations endangering the children or encouraging them to make relationships with the persons they do not know.
Advertisements should not persuade children so as to buy or rent a product or service as well as they should not straightforwardly persuade them to encourage their parents or someone else so as to buy a product or service of which publicized.
Advertisements cannot abuse affection, tenderness and faithfulness of parents to their children.
The advertisements should not give any messages that would mean that owners or users of a product or service would become lonely providing social, physical or psychological advantage between coevals.
The advertisements should not abuse the affection, tenderness and faithfulness of children towards their parents, teacher and other people in whom children place reliance.
In advertisements, children should not unreasonably be shown in dangerous situations. Children should not appear in advertisements while using dangerous objects, items harmful to their well-being.
Advertisements should not cause children to have unrealistic expectations with regards to the advertised product or service.
The advertisements should not include any statement of visual presentation to cause children to be misled about a product’s real dimensions, features, durability and performance.
Advertisements directed to children should not include statements implying children to make agreements to buy or hire the products and services.
The product or service price should not be stated in a way so that the child would misunderstand its real worth. These advertisements should not imply that every family budget can afford the advertised product or service.
Besides, if the usage of a product or service that is advertised requires an additional knowledge or skill for usage, then this should explicitly be mentioned in the ad as well as the expected result by an average child after it is used and the ads should not promote children to enter into transactions via sale or lease of the advertised products or services; especially in tele-marketing broadcasts.
As regards the cinema and television films as well as news programmes and “child programmes”, should the planned broadcast periods are more than 30 minutes, then advertisements or tele-marketing broadcasts can be put only once in each 30 minutes period. We see from this provision that the child programmes are held stricter than the other types of programmes in respect of advertising.
In addition to the above Article 7 of the RTUK Law provides as “advertisements related to the foods and beverages containing substances of which overconsumption is not recommended in health diets, cannot be broadcasted in or together with children’s programmes”.
A similar and an extensive provision takes place in the RTUK Regulation as “advertisements related to the foods and beverages containing salt/sodium, sugar, fat, acid converting to fat of which overconsumption is not recommended in health diets, cannot be broadcasted in and take place with child programme”. These newly introduced exclusive provisions in relation to food advertising to children have created significant reactions in advertising sector as with the introduction of these provisions it is no longer possible for advertisements concerning fast food and nutritional products containing salt/sodium, sugar, fat, acid converting to fat to take place in the child programmes. According to the recent statements of the Radio and Television Supreme Council (the “RTUK”), they have reasonable grounds in prohibiting these advertisements being broadcasted in the children’s programmes so as to protect children from obesity and to adopt the law of harmonization of the EU.
In addition to the above, according to Article 13 of the RTUK Law; “placing products” in the children’s programmes is prohibited which means that it is not possible to broadcast an advertisement concerning a product or service in these programmes by including it or referring to it in the programme. In parallel with this, under Article 10/4 of the RTUK Regulation, “strip advertisements “cannot take place in programmes directed to children which is also based on the same purpose of child protection.
Apart from the above, we should also mention the International Codes of Advertisement Applications executed by the Self-Regulatory Council in Turkey. The Turkish Self-Regulatory Council is a member of the European Advertising Standards Alliance where the self-regulatory organizations in Europe are being represented. It is an independent authority which is entitled to request stopping or correction of its members’ ads only. Its decisions are not legally binding but they have an ethical and professional value among its members which provides applicability of its decisions by its members.
The child advertising related provisions in the International Codes of Advertisement Applications are almost parallel with the above. Namely, under Article 18 of the International Codes of Advertisement Applications, special care should be taken in marketing communication directed to or featuring children or young people. Such communications should not undermine positive social behaviour, lifestyles and attitudes. Products unsuitable for children or young people should not be advertised in media targeted to them, and advertisements directed to children or young people should not be inserted in media where the editorial matter is unsuitable for them. Material unsuitable for children should be clearly identified as such.
Under Article 19 of the Code:
marketing communication should not exploit inexperience or credulity;
should not suggest that possession or use of the promoted product will give a child or young person physical, psychological or social advantages over other children or young people, or that not possessing the product will have the opposite effect;
should not contain any statement or visual treatment that could have the effect of harming children or young people mentally, morally or physically;
children and young people should not be portrayed in unsafe situations or engaging in actions harmful to themselves or others, or be encouraged to engage in potentially hazardous activities or behaviour; and
marketing communication should not undermine the authority, responsibility, judgment or tastes of parents, having regard to relevant social and cultural values.
Executive Councils and practice
The Advertisement Board is the sole administrative authority controlling the advertisements in Turkey which has been established within the body of Ministry of Industry and Trade. The Advertisement Board is entitled to conduct investigation ex officio or upon an individual complaint. Upon the examination, the Advertisement Board is entitled to stop the challenged advertisements temporarily as precaution and/or demand of the amendment of the challenged advertisement and/or rule for administrative monetary fines. The amount of the monetary fine to be imposed by the Advertisement Board is currently TL 7, 396 (approximately € 3,200) for locally broadcasted ads and TL 73, 966 (approximately € 32,000) for nationally broadcasted ads; should the advertisement be found to be contrary to the legislation. If the same violation is repeated in a year, this monetary fine is doubled and imposed on the violator advertiser. The Board’s decisions are legally binding upon the relevant parties.
On the other hand, RTUK is also entitled to control radio and TV ads in Turkey. Concerning broadcasts that violate the alcohol prohibition, the Council at first warns the broadcasting institution and should the same violation continue after the warning, then the Board is entitled to impose administrative monetary fine in the amount corresponding to 1-3 percent of the broadcasting institution’s monthly advertisement income depending on the severity of the violation and the type of the broadcasting media. Should the violation continue, the Council can also hold for stopping of such programmes or broadcast of the concerned channel for a certain period.
While radio and television broadcasters are liable under the provisions of the RTUK Law and Regulation executed by RTUK with regards to radio and television broadcasts; all advertisers displaying and launching advertisements in any kind of media are liable under the provisions of the Advertising Regulation executed by the Advertisement Board. However, there is an explicit allocation of duties between the Advertisement Board, and RTUK; namely the Advertisement Board takes the initiative for fining of the advertisers, while the RTUK acts for fining the TV and radio broadcasters in principle.
Sample Advertising Board and RTUK decisions
Although in theory child advertisement principles seem to be well founded, in practice we observe many advertisements in Turkey which do not comply with the above mentioned rules and principles.
The provision “advertisements not promoting products or services to be used directly by children should not include views or expressions of children” is one of the highly breached provisions in Turkey. For instance, an advertising campaign of a well-known telecommunications operator was launched in all kinds of media where children were used as the mascots and main characters of the advertisement. Though some of these ads were penalized by the Advertisement Board, the campaigns continued for a long time and some of the ads were not banned or penalized at all.
Another provision namely “a direct call for children to buy the product or service advertised or to convince their parents to buy” was breached by a jewelry company during the mother’s day promotions using a child asking his father to buy a diamond ring for his mother. The Advertisement Board decided that this provision was breached and that the ads should be stopped.
In addition to the above, a number of advertisements were banned by the Advertisement Board by imposing a monetary fine as well for breaching the provision of “It is forbidden to include violent aspects that children can imitate”.
One was for a child food product considered to negatively affect children, with the reasoning that the advertisement was giving the impression that children can perform some dangerous acts after eating the product.
In another case, there was a child shown as disturbing his parent driving his car in order to stop by the toy store which was being advertised at the same time.
Another outstanding example was for a home insurance advertisement where two actors acted as thieves who have broken into a house by ignoring the fact that theft constitutes a crime and in a way where children can easily be convinced that theft is approved by society; because the impression was that they were enjoying what they were actually doing.
Concerning the RTUK decisions, it is not common in practice that RTUK holds for penalties due to the advertisements targeted to children but deals with the whole radio and TV broadcasts, including the ones which violate the children protection rules under RTUK Law and RTUK Regulation.
As an outstanding example, RTUK has several decisions punishing broadcasters for showing advertisements with erotic or sexual content within the protective period for children (which is also determined in RTUK Law and Regulation as the period outside the hours 11.00 p.m.-05.00 a.m).
With the taking effect of new provisions in RTUK Law and RTUK Regulation, we think that the scope of children protection purpose both in advertising and broadcasting areas has been enlarged. It is now presumable that the programmes with the advertisements directed to children concerning some types of foods will appear to be challenged before RTUK more frequently as of now given that this was held as a very important issue by the parents and recently became legalized by virtue of this provision.
We can see that the child related provisions in advertising and broadcasting regulations are changing and developing in Turkey in time depending on the social and governmental needs. We are of the opinion that these changes will continue to increase the awareness level in the society and especially among the parents and new changes will be introduced with the purpose of effective and extensive protection of children as long as the new marketing techniques and technologies burst out.
Advertisement Regulation and RTUK Regulation.
Published in conjunction with the Global Advertising Lawyers Alliance (www.gala-marketlaw.com). GALA is an alliance of lawyers located throughout the world specializing in advertising law.
Ugur AktekinPartner, Mehmet Gün & Partners, Istanbul, Turkey
Basak GürbüzAssociate, Mehmet Gün & Partners, Istanbul, Turkey