On 9 November the Department of Media, Culture and Sport (DCMS) published a consultation document on product placement in television, taking another significant step towards the legalisation and introduction of this practice in the UK.
The Audiovisual Media Services Directive, which must be implemented in the UK by 19 December, defines product placement as “any form of audiovisual commercial communication consisting of the inclusion of or reference to a product, a service or the trade mark thereof so that it is featured within a programme, in return for payment or for similar consideration.”
The AVMS Directive allows limited product placement within light entertainment and sports programmes (save for children’s programmes) and subject to overriding safeguards such as there must be no undue prominence of the product in question and viewers must not be encouraged to buy or rent the promoted products.
Unlike several other European member states, the UK government has viewed product placement as neither desirable nor beneficial confirming, as recently as May 2009, that the practice would remain prohibited. This position is changing fast however. As we reported in September (see: Government U-Turn on Product Placement), following Ben Bradshaw’s promotion to Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport the government announced a 3 month consultation on the lifting of the ban on product placement.
On 9 November the Government published a consultation document announcing that it “is now reconsidering [the] position [and] is currently minded to permit product placement on UK television subject to safeguards.”
The consultation is limited to product placement within television and does not include prop placement or product placement within video-on-demand services or within films and imported programmes.
The Government appears set on relaxing the prohibition on product placement on TV no doubt in order to assist the currently beleaguered TV and advertising sectors. At a practical level, brand owners and managers, ad agencies, TV broadcasters, productions companies and other stakeholders should all be carefully monitoring these ongoing developments and working on incorporating product placement into their communication channels.