Many parents might disagree, but research cited by the Toy Manufacturers of Europe (TME) claims television advertising to children is an essentially "harmless activity".
For this reason it was solidly behind Lego and Mattel when they went to court against the Norwegian government's ban on TV advertising to children below the age of 12. In the event, the European Free Trade Association (Efta) Court of Justice issued an advisory opinion that the ban did not apply to advertisements on satellite television beamed into the country from Britain. As a result, the Norwegian Consumer Office has abandoned its case in the country's "market court" against the two toy makers.
At the centre of this issue is the European Union's Television Without Frontiers directive, which is up for revision. Although Norway is not part of the union, it is bound by EU legislation as a result of its signature to the EEA Treaty, under which it effectively accepts the "acquis communautaire". But the Efta court's finding is unlikely to bring about the end of the matter. Indeed, for observers of the European policy-making processes, it may yield a few lessons in how the rules that - to the distaste of the Euro-sceptics - increasingly rule our lives are arrived at.
For a start, the TME - heartened by the finding in favour of satellite programmes - is pressing for the overturning of Norway's ban on children's advertisements in programmes produced within the country. The organisation was founded in 1990 to lobby EU institutions on behalf of the union's toy manufacturers and now claims to represent 80 per cent of them. …