Ofcom confirms product placement date

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Ofcom has confirmed the launch date of product placement on British television, which is set for spring next year. Radio changes take place with immediate effect.

From Monday 28th February 2011, commercial TV broadcasters (including Asian TV channels) will be able to feature product/brands during shows.

In simple words, this means TV channels will be able to feature direct product advertising during programming air-time, something, which was previously not permitted. Product placement has long been legal in the United States, for example Simon Cowell used to drink from a Coca-Cola branded glass when he was a judge on ‘American Idol’.

Recently many Asian broadcasters have come under fire from Ofcom after repeatedly airing direct commercial messages during programming airtime, which currently is not allowed and against Ofcom rules and regulations. The new proposals will surely be welcomed by most Asian TV and radio channels.

Viewers will be alerted when product placement is being used. The new rules will require broadcasters to alert viewers at the start and the end of shows which feature product placement, probably by using a symbol that appears briefly in the corner of screens. They may also be forced to list the names of the products featured in the show in the end credits.

A long list of goods and services, including tobacco and alcohol will be prevented from taking advantage of the more liberal regime. Foods that are high in salt or sugar will be barred. That means that a fast food chain such as McDonald’s will not be able to pay to place a hamburger in the hands of an ‘Emmerdale’ character.

The change comes into effect on Monday 28th February 2011. Product placement in UK-produced programmes must not be shown till the new rules come into force.

UK radio stations will be able to make use of the new regime with immediate effect.

Prohibitions of commercial arrangements in relation to:
-Commercial references in and around news broadcasts
-Integrated commercial references within children�۪s programming
-The selection and rotation of music
-Commercial arrangements with, and/or references to, potentially harmful products or services
-Religious programming
-Funding of commercial arrangements by non-commercial not-for-profit organisations.

Unlike before, radio stations will not need to distinguish between commercial agreements and regular programming (excluding spot commercials). This would give radio stations wide discretion to integrate, for example, paid-for, promotional commercial references into programming, provided these were transparent to listeners. This option would retain the value of spot advertisements as a distinct type of content and a distinct revenue source.

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