In February 2011 the Dutch Directorate for the Media ruled that the STER (the sales organization for advertising on radio and tv of the public service broadcaster) had violated the new Dutch Media Law. The STER received a financial penalty of 35.000 euro for broadcasting alcohol commercials for Heineken and Bavaria beer before 21.00h on television in 2010. The complaints were filed by the Dutch Institute for Alcohol Policy (STAP) that is engaged in monitoring the alcohol marketing in The Netherlands.
Since the first of January 2010 a legal time ban on alcohol advertising came into force in The Netherlands. Between 6.00h and 21.00h alcohol commercials are not allowed to be broadcasted anymore on radio and television. Sponsoring of programs by alcohol advertisers is still allowed.
Heineken had advertised several times for the Heineken Champions League before 21.00h and Bavaria broadcasted a commercial for its alcohol free beer Bavaria 0.0%. Since the Bavaria 0.0% commercial also prominently portrayed the alcoholic Bavaria beer, the Dutch Advertising Code Committee (self-regulatory body on advertising) as well as the Directorate for the Media (rules on legislation) adjudicated that this commercial could be considered as alcohol advertising.
Since the broadcaster is responsible according to the Media Law, the brewers cannot be financially punished for having broadcasted their alcohol commercials within the watershed.