Italy OKs product placement. ITV may sue

The European Union in December approved, with certain limitations, product placement in linear TV broadcasts. The Italian government followed suit March 11 and while there are some dissenters, few see any actual problems in the Berlusconi-led government approving the changes.

However, the UK government seems to be saying it will not endorse the new EU regs. And Michael Grade at cash-strapped UK commercial broadcaster ITV is reportedly furious – and is prepared to go legal.

The EU, as far as product placement is concerned, leaves member countries to make a final decision on whether to pass the rules into their local legislation. The possibility of earning a bit more cash from showing off a Kellogg’s corn flakes box during an episode of a soap opera is extremely appealing during these financially gloomy times. ITV reckons on earning around £150m a year from product placement.

Except the UK’s Culture & Media Secretary of State Andy Burnham has already said he will maintain the ban on product placement in TV programmes. Which is where the lawyers can start earning cash! ITV’s view is that it might have a strong case for a Judicial Review given that Burnham seems to have made his mind up ahead of the recent consultation process, and thus neutered any official consultation process.