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UK gives OK to product placement

UK authorities have decided to allow product placement in TV shows for the first time. Culture minister Ben Bradshaw said that following a period of consultation the UK Department of Culture, Media and Sport will allow product placement on UK screens “in a way which will provide meaningful commercial benefits to commercial television companies and program makers while taking account of the legitimate concerns that have been expressed”.

Bradshaw said maintaining the rules forbidding product placement would place UK producers at a financial disadvantage during what is already a challenging period financially. He added that, aside from Denmark, each of the European Union Member states allows, or has stated its intention to allow, product placement.

Communications regulator Ofcom now needs to run a public consultation on the specific changes needed to its Code regulating the content of TV programmes. The changes are expected to come into force later this year. Once in place, the new rules would allow product placement in four categories of programme: films; TV series; sports programmes; and light entertainment programmes.

Indie producers advocacy group Pact welcomed the move and said the new rules would see £72m (€82m) injected into the UK TV market in the short term. CEO John McVay said: “Allowing product placement will put British producers on a more level playing field with their counterparts in the US, Europe and the Internet, and help to plug the funding gap that UK original programming is currently facing.”