1. Purpose of the code of conduct
1.1. The code of conduct is part of the AEB code of ethics regarding commercial communications.
The primary purpose of the code of conduct is to contribute to the safeguarding of children’s health and to support balanced nutrition. In addition, we reassure consumers by reacting to their potential comments and complaints promptly.
1.2. Members of the AEB believe that no one knows the needs of children better than their parents, including in regard to food. The right of parents to guide the consumption choices of their children can be realised if children are as unaffected by the direct influence of such advertising as possible. This cannot be controlled by parents, but it is within our power.
The code of conduct is based on the premise that excessive consumption of any food is not recommended for children. The AEB wants to protect minors from the excessive consumption of foods with a high fat, salt and sugar content. Therefore, we want to ensure the correct content and format of audiovisual commercial communications regarding food and nutrients.
1.3. Compliance with the code of conduct is obligatory for AEB members and strongly recommended for other media service providers. For non-members of the AEB, joining this best practice is voluntary. In the case of voluntary joining, the joining party commits to following sections 2-6 of the code of conduct.
2. Important terms:
2.1. Commercial communications are understood by AEB members as audiovisual commercial communications (§ 25 of the Media Services Act), which are, in particular, television advertising (MSA § 28 (1)), sponsorship (MSA § 30 (1)), sponsorship information (MSA § 30 (2)), teleshopping (MSA § 28 (2)) and product placement (MSA § 31 (1)). The suitability of commercial communication is based on its content, and restrictions in the code of conduct do not apply to the identity, business name or trademarks of the person placing the commercial communication.
Children are understood by AEB members as children up to 12 years of age.
2.2. Children’s programmes are understood by AEB members as all programmes whose audience, according to a television audience study recognised in Estonia, is at least 50% children.
Inappropriate commercial communications that feature food and drink are:
2.2.1. commercial communications that feature food or drink whose content of fat, including saturated fatty acids, sugar, including added sugar, and/or salt per 100 grams or millilitres exceeds the maximum content of the relevant category, as set out in Annex 1 of the code of conduct;
commercial communications promoting or condoning incorrect eating habits and unhealthy lifestyles, i.e. commercial communications that:
(a) are prohibited under the Advertising Act, such as those that directly incite children to enter into transactions independently or exploit their trust in their parents, teachers or other persons;
(b) encourage excessive food consumption;
(c) use promotional offers irresponsibly;
(d) use aggressive or misleading commercial practices, such as those that are misleading or ambiguous in their descriptions of the nutritional value of the product;
(e) use characters or public figures popular among children that are trademark protected in fields other than food or drink.
3. Transmission of commercial communications featuring food and drink
3.1. In order to ensure compliance with the code of conduct, all parties to the advertising chain must ensure compliance.
AEB members refrain from broadcasting commercial communications referred to in clause 2.4 on their channels during children’s programmes.
3.2. In the case of commercial communications featuring food and drink, AEB members undertake to introduce this code of conduct to the person placing the commercial communication and the person placing the commercial communication is obliged to verify the compliance or non-compliance of the food or drink featured in the commercial communication with the categories of food and drink unsuitable for commercial communications referred to in clause 2.4. If the suitability of the commercial communication is verified, the commercial communication may be broadcast at any time and if not, the commercial communication is unsuitable for children’s programmes.
4. Monitoring compliance with the code of conduct
4.1. The Best Practice Council of the AEB monitors that its members comply with the code of conduct.
At least once every calendar year, the Best Practice Council of the AEB carries out an inspection regarding compliance with the requirements of the code of conduct, in the course of which they ask AEB members and, if necessary, other parties in the advertising sector and representatives of the public sector about compliance with the code of conduct and analyse the council’s decisions on complaints and requests for explanation and, if necessary, make changes to the code of conduct.
4.2. Code of conduct inspection results are public on the AEB website.
5. Complaints and requests for explanation and their resolution
5.1. In the event of suspected non-compliance, any natural or legal person may turn to the Best Practice Council, provided that the appeal is made in writing with information that allows for the identification of a specific commercial communication and that it concerns a commercial communication that was not published more than three months ago.
The Best Practice Council does not process complaints if the matter is related to ongoing legal proceedings, if the submitter of the complaint cannot be identified or if the complaint is not related to compliance with the code of conduct.
5.2. The Best Practice Council is obliged to respond to complaints no later than within 30 days of the date of receipt and this deadline may be extended once. The decision of the Best Practice Council may be:
5.2.1. informative – in situations where the complaint is a question, suggestion or request for explanation;
disapproving – in situations where the Best Practice Council identifies a breach of the code of conduct. In the event of a disapproving decision, the member of the AEB ensures that the commercial communication or the manner of its transmission is amended or that its transmission is stopped;
5.2.2. approving – in situations where the Best Practice Council does not identify a breach of the code of conduct.
5.3. The Best Practice Council may ask the person who placed the commercial communication their opinion regarding the complaint.
Members of the AEB are obliged to publish disapproving decisions taken by the Best Practice Council on their website and forward it to the person who placed the commercial communication along with a warning that if their commercial communications receive three disapproving decisions within a 12-month period, their commercial communications featuring food and drink will not be broadcast for six months from the date of the last disapproving decision.
5.4. All decisions of the Best Practice Council are published on the AEB website.
6. Best Practice Council
6.1. The Best Practice Council of the AEB consists of AEB members representing media service providers, the chairman of the Best Practice Council, one or more independent expert, a representative of the public sector, advertising industry and food industry and/or a voluntary self-regulator. Each time, the chairman of the Best Practice Council decides on the number and composition of external members eligible to vote invited to the council meeting (e.g. to update the code of conduct or depending on the nature of the complaint).
The Best Practice Council meets as necessary, but not less than required to carry out the inspection set out in section 4 or to resolve complaints and requests for explanation. The meeting agenda of the Best Practice Council is forwarded to those invited at least seven days before the meeting.
6.2. The council is managed by the chairman of the Best Practice Council, appointed by the management board of the AEB. The council has quorum when at least half of the members invited to the meeting are present, and all members of the Best Practice Council are eligible to vote on decisions. In the event of a tie, the chairman of the Best Practice Council casts the deciding vote.
Contact details of the council:
Kirsimäe 16-2, Tänassilma, Saku, 76406 Harju County, Estonia
Phone: +372 51 55 650
7. Amendment, adoption, entry into force
7.1. All AEB members have joined the self-regulation. Upon adoption and amendment, relevant persons (e.g. the Estonian Food Industry Association) and institutions (e.g. the Ministry of Social Affairs, the Ministry of Culture, the National Institute for Health Development) are given the opportunity to express their opinion.
Approved by the decision of the board of the Association of Estonian Broadcasters in Tallinn on 30 September 2022.
7.2. All undersigned commit to implementing this code of conduct by 1 January 2023.