From today product placement in UK TV shows will be allowed as agreed by Ofcom and Parliament sometime last year. Regulations still apply in certain areas but are far more relaxed on the matter as a whole. It’s time to watch out for those Coca Cola endorsements during our daily intake of Coronation Street and Hollyoaks. I saw an advert from Ofcom explaining the newly agreed terms for the first time yesterday, for those who haven’t seen it check it out on the flipside as well as more details of the new restrictions.
Ofcom’s new rules “will enable commercial broadcasters to access new sources of revenue, whilst roviding protection for audiences,” the regulator said.
The new rules come into force on 28 February and have been incorporated into the broadcasting code, a legal framework enforced by Ofcom.
The guidelines contain few surprises. Broadcasters will have to alert viewers when programmes containing product placement are aired by using an on-screen logo.
This logo will be unveiled by Ofcom in the new year and will have to appear for a minimum of three seconds at the start and end of programmes that contain product placement. It will also appear after shows return from advertising breaks.
Certain categories of programmes and products are also excluded from the changes, which follow legislation passed by parliament earlier this year legalising product placement.
It will not be permitted in children’s programming or news programmes. The practice will also be barred in current affairs shows produced in the UK and from religious programmes.
Four categories of content – films (which in this case includes dramas and documentaries); TV series including soap operas; entertainment shows; and sports programmes – will be free to use product placement.
Placement of alcohol and tobacco products is also barred and the same restrictions apply to gambling, medicines, baby milk and foods that are high in sugar or salt.
Other services that cannot be advertised on television, including escort agencies and weapons, have also been excluded from the new rules by Ofcom.
EU and UK legislation also states that products cannot be advertised in an “unduly prominent” way and the new guidelines include a requirement to ensure references are “editorially justified”.
That will prevent broadcasters from filling shows with products or services that have little or no context in their programmes.
Estimates of the size of the UK product placement market vary. MirriAd, a product placement company, claims it should be worth at least 5% of the total UK TV advertising market, as it is in the US. That would give it an annual value of £150m. Source