The Law On Advertising, For Public Health

Gagik Aghbalyan

The Ministry of Health has initiated amendments to the Law on Advertising.

The Ministry suggests that public service advertising promotes healthy lifestyles directly through mass media such as television and radio from 4:00pm to 11:00pm. To this end, additions will be made to Article 13 of the Law of Advertising.

The ministry expects that the display of public service advertising in “prime time” will lead to a decrease of  non-communicable diseases, premature mortality and morbidity.

Judging from the draft law, such a proposal was received during various public discussions. “A present, our country’s policy encourages a healthy lifestyle. It is also necessary to take measures to create deep roots in healthy living, by conveying information to broad masses of the population with articles of a social nature,” as quoted from the project.

It is also noted that the World Health Organization defines the main directions of public health care for the population’s health and disease prevention. At present, more than 25% if of global diseases are conditioned by public behavior and lifestyles. The major risk factors for mortality, illness and disability diseases (cardiovascular system disease, neoplasms, external causes of death, respiratory and digestive tract diseases) are associated with poor lifestyle and harmful behaviors.

In the Armenian population, non-communicable diseases are the most common and make up about 80% of all registered deaths.

The amendment to the law, according to the Ministry of Health, will support events aimed towards the promotion of a healthy lifestyle and the strengthening of a healthy lifestyle among a large portion of the population.

Television is a business that has its own rules. How will this Ministry of Health initiative affect businesses? Shant TV Company Executive Director, Laert Soghoyan thinks that if public service advertisements are imposed, then the payouts will be deducted from the advertising block, which is not profitable form the business point of view.

“Whether or not the television company will suffer from the expected additions to the Law on Advertising depends on some nuances. In particular, will the time spent from public service advertising be included in the ad-supported duration of the TV commercial? If yes, and if public service ads are placed at the expense of other ads, then the TV company will suffer. If it is imposed to display specific public service ads at a specific hour, other ad during that slot will be taken out as a result, which of course, is not profitable from the business point of view,” said Shant’s Executive Director.

He thinks it would be better if the amendments to the laws assume flexibility, and public service ads can be placed in free slots.

The draft public discussion phase was passed in December 2018. It was posted on the unified website of legal acts drafting in e-draft.am. There were no suggestions regarding the project on the website. Apparently, the draft law will be discussed at upcoming sittings of the National Assembly.

Gagik Aghbalyan

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