Ofcom to change rules on TV product placement


Media regulator is set to announce changes in its rules and regulations, which will allow commercial channels the ability to make further money via product placements.

The move will be seen as a welcoming relief for many broadcasters after the advertising downturn that has hit commercial broadcasters. Media analysts estimate product placement could boost around �100m into commercial television in the short term.

These developments will lead to soft drink companies paying to have their products featured in soaps or celebrity chefs promoting supermarket products. In the US, popular programme ‘American Idol’ shows the judges sitting behind a desk with drinks glasses bearing the Coca-Cola logo (pictured), which is blacked out when the programme is shown on UK TV.

Previously, it was against Ofcom regulations for broadcasters to feature obvious advertising through programmes. Furthermore channels were forbidden to make money from any sort of direct advertising of brands on TV shows.

Asian broadcasters in particular had to be extra cautious about blocking any type of branding on programmes like ‘Sa Re Ga Ma Pa’, ‘Voice Of India’, ‘Dus Ka Dum’, etc. In India, the government allows channels to pocket money from such advertising references but in the UK these shows had to be edited down with cover-up graphics before telecast. This also resulted in UK Asian TV channels to delay transmission of shows from India to give networks time to edit out ‘product placement’ references.

Peter Bazalgette, the creator of ‘Big Brother’, said the introduction of product placement was “hugely overdue”.

Writing in the Sunday Mirror he said, “My prediction is that it could be worth �100 million a year to commercial TV.

“Product placement needs to be done transparently, with credits that make it clear it has taken place.

“But you have to trust the consumer. If it’s overdone or tasteless viewers will switch off.”

The new rules will not apply to the BBC, which will remain banned from promoting products, even on shows made by independent production companies.

Children’s programmes will not be affected either, with the ban understood to be staying in place across all networks.

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