Complaints procedure Complaints about violations of the law can be submitted to independent media authorities of the Flemish and Walloon communities. Both the Vlaamse Regulator voor de Media and the Conseil Supérieur de l’Audiovisuel have the power to impose a range of penalties in reaction to a violation (ranging from a recommendation, to public shaming, to restriction of broadcasting rights, to financial penalties up to €125.000). Vlaams mediadecreet betreffende de radio-omroep en de televisie (Flemish Act on radio and television broadcasting, statutory: The Flemish Media regulator is in charge of the supervision of media regulations within the Flemish community. The general council of the Flemish Media regulator judges complaints about marketing, teleshopping, sponsoring etc. which can be lodged by any interested person or organisation. Violators of the regulations can receive a sanction: which can be a fine up to €125.000, a warning with the request to stop the violation or the obligation to broadcast the decision of the Commission. The violator has to pay for this broadcast, for the obligatory publication of the decision in the newspapers and/or in weekly magazines. The violator has to pay for this publication; the suspension or revocation of the broadcasting permit; the suspension or revocation of the recognition of the broadcasting company. Summaries of decisions, recommendations and complaints are published on the website of the Flemish Media regulator. The minimum and maximum amount of time the procedure officially takes is 6 weeks. This period can be prolonged whenever it is needed for the procedure and/or the investigation. Decret coordonne sur les services de medias audiovisuels (French community Decree on Audiovisual Media Services), statutory: The search for violations is done by the research secretariat of the ‘Higher Council for the audiovisual sector of the French Community’. The research secretariat receives all the complaints of the public concerning radio and TV programmes (e.g. protection of minors, duration of publicity). The complaints are classified without consequence or reported to the directorate for licenses and control, which can impose an administrative sanction after it investigates the matter. The secretariat is able to identify every violation or non-observing of laws, decrees or ordinances concerning the radio broadcasting company. Possible sanctions are a warning, publication of the offence, the suspension of the disputed programme, the revocation of the disputable programme, the suspension of the license for a maximum duration of 6 months, the revocation of the license or a fine of minimum €250. The advice directorate gives an advice within a period of maximum 3 months, the directorate for licenses and control gives advice within 2 months. Advice in an urgent procedure is given within 1 month. Decisions, advice and recommendations are published on the website. Dekret über [die audiovisuellen Mediendienste] und die Kinovorstellungen (Decree of the Media Council of the German-speaking Community of Belgium), statutory: The search for violations concerning this decree is done by the Media Council of the German-speaking Community (Medienrat der Deutschsprachigen Gemeinschaft). Complaints can be made to the Media Council of the German-speaking Community. Sanctions, where appropriate, are imposed by the Government of the German speaking Community and can be a fine between €2,5 and €2.500, a provisional suspension, or a reduction or a revocation of the license. The media council formulates a statement within a period of 3 weeks and 3 months. Convenant inzake reclame voor en marketing van alcoholhoudende dranken (Covenant on practice and advertising for alcoholic beverages), non-statutory: Any interested party without commercial aims can submit a written complaint about violations of the industry's code of compliance on alcohol marketing in all covered media. When the Advertising Ethics Jury (JEP) receives a complaint (in Dutch or in French) about a current campaign, the campaign remains in the air until the final judgement is given by the JEP. If the marketing message contains textual or visual elements which do not correspond to laws or codes, the JEP formulates a recommendation to change or suspend the advertisement. This recommendation is directed at the responsible advertiser. When the responsible advertiser does not follow the advice, the JEP will send a suspension recommendation to the media. When the binding recommendation of the JEP is not followed the company has to pay the JEP €1.000 per day. The minimum and maximum amount of time the procedure officially takes is 4 days to 2 weeks (emergency procedure possible). The results of procedures are publicly announced. Summaries of advice, recommendations and underlying motivations are published on the website of the JEP. The JEP is a self-regulatory body and can only give recommendations.
In Belgium there is only one federal law regulating alcohol advertising, namely the "Wet betreffende de bescherming van de gezondheid van de gebruikers op het stuk van de voedingsmiddelen en andere produkten (Law to protect the health of consumers) (Loi relative à la protection de la santé des consommateurs en ce qui concerne les denrées alimentaires et les autres produits). Since Belgium is a federal state, and advertising on radio and television is considered a community competence, advertising on radio and television is regulated at the community level. This means that there are four different statutory regulations which regulate television and radio broadcasting: Law to protect the health of consumers and the Decrees for the three Communities (the Flemish Decree, French Decree and German Decree). The Decrees all contain a chapter on the regulation of advertising, sponsoring and teleshopping and in most cases alcohol is specifically mentioned. The stipulations about alcohol marketing in the different community laws are similar in each region. Also, checking these statutory regulations is a responsibility of the Communities. The Flemish and French Communities are competent for media in the Brussels Region as well. Up until 2007, there was a separate Decree for Brussels as well. Until May 2005, advertising for beer was (self)regulated by the "code of conduct and advertising concerning beer" of the beer industry. De regulering van reclamevoering op televisie en radio is een gemeenschapsbevoegdheid en dit betekent dat elke gemeenschap (Vlaamse, Franse en Duitstalige) hierover haar eigen regelgeving heeft. De bepalingen in de verschillende regelgevingen zijn echter zeer gelijkaardig. The Decree for the French speaking Community Decret coordonne sur les services de medias audiovisuels (French community Decree on Audiovisual Media Services) stipulates in Article 16 that services who broadcast marketing for alcoholic beverages on radio and TV, have to give broadcasting time for free to the government for broadcasting health education campaigns. The Decree for the German speaking Community Dekret über [die audiovisuellen Mediendienste] und die Kinovorstellungen (Decree of the Media Council of the German-speaking Community of Belgium) stipulates in Article 6.1 (§3) that audiovisual commercial communication for alcoholic beverages may not be specifically aimed at minor and may not encourage excessive use of such beverages. By means of the “covenant on practice and advertising for alcoholic beverages”, the former self-regulation code of the beer industry evolved in a co-regulation between the alcohol industry, consumer organisations and the government. On 25 January 2013 The Belgian Brewers, The Belgian Federation of wine and spirits, COMEOS, the federation of hotels, restaurants and bars, consumer organisations (OIVO and Testaankoop) signed together with the Minister of health Onkelinx a new Convenant inzake reclame voor en marketing van alcoholhoudende dranken (Covenant on practice and advertising for alcoholic beverages). This new convenant is in place since 25 April 2013. Until now, this covenant has not been implemented in any legal structure, so it remains a non-statutory, self-regulation. The research project Almoregal currently (August 2016 – March 2018) conducts research into regulations on alcohol marketing in Belgium.
|Table 3 Labelling information||Description||Legally binding or self-regulation|
|Table 4 Self-regulations on Alcohol marketing in Belgium||Coverage|
|Convenant inzake reclame voor en marketing van alcoholhoudende dranken (Covenant on|
advertising for alcoholic
|TV, radio, cinema, sponsoring, internet/digital media, outdoor, print, promotional items|
The following document contains an in depth (but older) overview of alcohol marketing regulations in Belgium: alcohol-marketing-regulations-Belgium.pdf For even more (but older) information on alcohol marketing regulations in the Belgium, please take a look at Belgium's appendix to the 2007 ELSA (Enforcement of national Laws and Self-regulation on advertising and marketing of Alcohol) report.