The British Medical Association (BMA) has confirmed that it has responded to the Department of Culture, Media and Sport’s request for consultation on the issue and stated its concerns about the plan to allow brands to appear in TV programmes.
Part of the BMA letter reads: “The BMA is deeply concerned about the decision to allow any form of product placement in relation to alcohol, gambling and foods high in fat, sugar or salt as this will reduce the protection of young people from harmful marketing influences and adversely impact on public health.
“By its nature product placement allows marketing to be integrated into programmes, blurring the distinction between advertising and editorial, and is not always recognisable. Studies show that children are particularly susceptible to embedded brand messages and these operate at a sub-conscious level.”
Other bodies that are opposing the plan include the National Union of Teachers and the British Heart Foundation.
Broadcasters are keen to supplement their advertising revenue with ancillary income streams, although it is unclear how much product placement would ultimately contribute. Figures as high as £100m have been mentioned but the ultimate value of product placement has also been questioned.
ITV has welcomed the product placement proposal. The public consultation runs until Friday (8 January)