Energy-saving regulations that require digital signage to be reprogrammed so that it turns after 10pm have been criticised for confusion over exemptions just days before the ban begins.

‘Hasty’ German digital signage ban prompts confusion

Digital Out Of Home advertising displays that contribute to public safety will be exempt from Germany’s energy-saving ban on the use of illuminated displays after 10pm.

But most if not all retail digital signage will be covered by the rule and must be reprogrammed within five days, as the ban comes into force on 1 September.

That’s according to new details about the energy-saving regulations published by Munich-based digital signage consultancy invidis. invidis says the regulations have been written at great speed, and there are still some uncertainties as to how they will work.

A ban on the use of illuminated and light-emitting advertising displays after 10pm has been introduced to meet and exceed energy use reduction targets agreed at the European Union level.

But the ban will not apply if the light emitted by displays is required to maintain traffic safety or ward off other hazards, and it cannot be replaced by other measures at short notice.

This means out-of-home advertising displays at bus stops, train stations and in underpasses could still be operated according to invidis managing director Florian Rotberg. “Most contracts explicitly require outdoor advertising companies to operate backlit city light posters and screens well into the night to provide passengers with more security in the waiting area. Autumn will show whether and how the exemptions will be used,” he said.

Rotberg has pointed to multiple signs that the regulations have been written in haste. The published regulations talk about a ban from 10pm to 4pm, whereas a ban from 10pm to 6am had previously been announced. One leading German newspaper has suggested that shop windows are not affected by the ban but it is not clear if this is correct.

“Some media have reported overnight that the lighting of shop windows is not affected by the regulation. It cannot be assumed that this means an all-clear for store front signage, but it cannot be completely ruled out at this point in time,” said Rotberg.

“Whether by integrators or retailers, shop window screens will have to be reprogrammed in the next five working days – as will the digital signage installations in business premises that are clearly visible from the outside or visibly light-emitting. The screens must be dark by 10 pm at the latest and, in accordance with the regulation, also switched off. Black content is not an alternative and is no longer socially accepted,” said Rotberg.