‘EU nanny-state rules again over our gadgets,’ screamed the Daily Express headline. ‘Now Brussels tells us when to turn off TV.’
The Eurosceptic, UKIP-supporting newspaper claimed that the European Union had ordered that TVs and computers, ‘must turn off automatically’ because electricity was being wasted whilst, ‘the owners are in bed’.
The Express quoted UKIP MEP Roger Helmer as saying, ‘This is another example of how we are losing control over the smallest details of our affairs. The EU should really find something better to do.’
And also quoted was a spokesperson for the ‘Get Britain Out’ campaign, ‘What will the EU dream up next? New technology is supposed to enhance our lives but the EU is intent on curtailing our freedom of choice.’
Express readers’ commented with indignation. ‘If any UK government did this they would be voted out. Period,’ posted DavidW. Another reader added, ‘They have to keep coming out with this kind of stuff in order to make it look as if they have a useful purpose.’
But this week fact-checking organisation, FactCheckEU, decided to take a ‘closer look’ at this Daily Express story. ‘Is the EU really imposing new rules in our homes?’ they asked. ‘Will we have to turn our TVs off at Brussels’ request? No matter what the ideological standpoint, it is essential to distinguish between euromyths and facts.’
FactCheckEU clarified that the European Commission had distributed a DRAFT document, entitled ‘Possible requirements for electronic displays.’ This proposed that electronic displays such as TVs and computers should have an ‘automatic power down’ after four hours of no activity, when the electronic device would either switch-off or go into stand-by mode. As FactCheckEU pointed out, ‘This means that the EU is not so much telling you when to switch off your TV but rather telling your TV when to automatically power down.’
However – and it’s a big however – the proposals recommended that the four-hour period can be changed by the consumer to anything from one to 12 hours, and consumers can disable the function altogether, after a message warning of the energy consumption implications. The proposed new regulation would have to be agreed by the democratically elected European Parliament.
The verdict of FactCheckEU: ‘There is a difference between the EU telling you to turn off your TV, and it asking a TV manufacturer to set the default time for automatic power down or standby mode to 4 hours. Despite the dramatic headline in The Express, TV-junkies across the EU can breathe a sigh of relief: their favourite shows will not be turned off at the request of Brussels! Although the new regulation has not been finalized yet, everybody will retain control over when their TVs will switch on and off.’
The fact checkers concluded that the Daily Express story was: ‘Rather Daft.’ Click to read their full report: