ITV heralds TV product placement review

Monday, November 9 2009,

ITV's Michael Grade has said that the government's review of TV product placement regulations will put UK broadcasters on a "level playing field" with global rivals.

Back in September, the government confirmed plans to relax the rules controlling commercial product placement on British TV shows, in a move which could generate up to 35m a year for the industry.

In response, outgoing ITV executive chairman Grade stated that the new regulations, if approved, would bring the UK in line with rival nations around the world.

"UK viewers are already used to product placement in the imported content they watch on UK screens, and product placement has been rolled out across the EU," said Grade in a statement.

"Allowing product placement in UK broadcasting would place UK producers and broadcasters on a level playing field with their international counterparts, as well as bringing new revenue directly into original UK production - which can only be good news for UK viewers and advertisers."

A formal consultation on the new approach, which is designed to bring the UK in line with the EU's Audiovisual Media Services (AVMS) directive, was launched today by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

"There is no doubt that commercial broadcasters are suffering in this challenging economic climate, with the sharp decline in advertising revenue well documented," explained culture secretary Ben Bradshaw.

"Programme makers have argued that our current stance on product placement will put them at a competitive disadvantage against international rivals, particularly from the US. Most EU member states have now decided that they will allow product placement. I want to ensure that UK broadcasters do not suffer through being overly strictly regulated.

"But at the same time, there must be adequate safeguards to address concerns that relaxing the rules will threaten the trust of viewers and the integrity of programming. And in particular, we must ensure that there is no adverse impact on health and welfare. That is why this consultation is seeking views on the detail of how product placement could work."

Stakeholders now have until January 8 to submit their responses to DCMS. Specific focus on whether alcohol, gambling or junk food advertising should be permitted under the new regulations.

Last month, Ofcom warned all producers and broadcasters of television aimed at under-16s that they will not be able to permit product placement on any programming, including US imports, from the end of this year.