Ofcom chief backs product placement within TV shows

Product placement in television programming has been given backing in principle by Ofcom chief executive Stephen Carter.

Speaking at the Incorporated Society of British Advertisers annual conference yesterday, Carter indicated that product placement in TV programmes needed to be considered in the light of the potential threat to TV advertising presented by personal video recorders, which allow viewers to skip ads, and other technological advances.

He said: “We have had it for years in films without viewer detriment. No one, unless they are in the advertising industry, watches a James Bond film and goes out and buys an Aston Martin. In principle, why not in television? In principle it’s easy; yes in entertainment, no in programmes that seek to inform or educate.”

But he adds: “In practice it’s a bit harder because genres blur more in television than in cinema. Clearly we need to discuss how this might develop.”

Carter also raised the possibility of advertiser-sponsored channels.

Product placement in TV programmes is banned in the UK when money changes hands. Ofcom is reviewing the Broadcasting Code and in its consultation process has raised the issue of a possible change in the rules. However, changes would have to be considered in the context of the EU directive Television Without Frontiers, which is also up for review later this year.

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