Ofcom 'bans product placement on kids TV'

Thursday, October 22 2009,

Ofcom has warned all producers and broadcasters of television aimed at under-16s that they will not be able to permit any product placement from the end of this year.

The new guidelines will be officially included in the regulator's broadcasting code from December 19 and also cover all programming imported from the US. This approach follows the recent implementation of a new Europe-wide Audio Visual & Media Services directive, reports The Guardian.

However, it is unclear at present whether the new rules will only affect programmes specifically commissioned for younger audiences or those watched by a large proportion of children, including Doctor Who and The X Factor.

In response, Channel 4 said that it is reviewing all processes for new acquisitions of children's programming before adapting them accordingly. It also said that it is waiting to hear whether programmes like The Simpsons would be covered under the new rules.

Five controller of children's programming Nick Wilson, who oversees the broadcaster's Milkshake! output, said: "We have asked suppliers to let us know if their programmes have benefited from product placement but we don't anticipate a flood of problems.

"A lot of our schedule is animation where there is little likelihood of product placement, and the remaining live action programmes tend to be UK commissions where we know categorically there is no product placement."

Also commenting on the new regulations, Nickelodeon UK managing director Howard Litton said: "It's not really an issue for us as we don't have product placement and anything that does sneak through on non-UK shows we edit out."

Last month, the government confirmed plans to relax the rules governing commercial product placement on non-children orientated TV shows in a move designed to boost broadcaster revenues.