Fines Sought Over Garlic & Subliminal Ads in EU

     (CN) – Poland is still exposing children to subliminal adverting, while the United Kingdom is ignoring a $23 million penalty for mislabeled garlic that lowered its tax liability, the European Commission said.



     Though the deadline passed in 2009, Poland has failed to fully implement the EU’s audiovisual media services law, according to the commission, which asked Europe’s Court of Justice to intervene Thursday.
     “Poland has partially implemented the Directive but not the provisions concerning on-demand services,” the commission said in a statement. “This means that providers of such services are not obliged to protect viewers, especially children, from hidden advertising (such as subliminal advertising) or from content containing incitement to hatred. Nor does Poland respect the rules on the European content of services provided on-demand.”
     The commission added that the law creates a level playing field and preserves cultural diversity; protects children and consumers; safeguards media pluralism; and combats racial and religious hate speech. It aims to ensure “a single market and legal certainty” for Europe’s TV and audiovisual industry.
     Programmers are subject to the regulations in their country of origin only, and destination countries cannot regulate foreign programs except in very limited cases, the commission said.
     If the EU’s highest court sides with the commission, Poland faces a maximum daily fine $140,000 until it fully implements the directive.
     The U.K. case stems from a 2005 shipment of fresh garlic from China – which British customs officials processed as frozen garlic – paying significantly lower import duties than it would have for fresh garlic.
     After the EU’s antifraud office uncovered the error in 2006, the commission found that customs officials failed to act with due care and set a $23 million fine in 2008.
     British officials have so far refused payment demands, according to the commission.
     “The continued failure to pay the amount due resulted in an infringement procedure being launched in 2010,” the commission said in a statement. “Despite the Letter of Formal Notice and the Reasoned Opinion sent … the U.K. has upheld its refusal to pay the amount at stake.”
     Member states collect customs duties on imported goods on behalf of the EU, which takes 75 percent of the proceeds and allows the states to keep the rest. According to the commission, the revenue source accounts for 15 percent of the EU’s budgetary income.

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