Ofcom unveils product placement plans for TV in UK

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The Independent Online

The UK media watchdog paved the way for the introduction of product placement on TV yesterday, after unveiling a series of proposals to govern the move and launching a consultation with the market.

Ofcom yesterday published proposals for product placement "designed to enable commercial broadcasters to access revenue streams where possible whilst protecting audiences".

This follows the Government's decision to back product placement following changes to European Union legislation last year, after lobbying from commercial broadcasters led by ITV. Ofcom's proposed rules govern which products can be placed, in which programmes and how those products are included.

Independent broadcasters are "enthusiastic" about product placement, one said, "providing we maintain the integrity of the programming". They are keen to break the reliance on traditional advertising, after struggling in the worst recession for the advertising market in living memory.

Ofcom's proposals included demanding the use of a symbol at the start and end of every programme using placement. It will be banned in all children's, news, current affairs, consumer affairs and religious programming.

Shows will also not be able to provide product placement to tobacco, alcohol, gambling medicine, baby milk and food or drink that is high in fat, salt or sugar.

The broadcasters admitted they did not know how significant the product placement market would prove. One likened it to the market for sponsoring shows. "It was not an overnight success but it now brings in millions of pounds." Ofcom said it was also exploring paid-for references to brands in radio shows.