Thursday, June 12, 2008

Burnham speaks against product placement

Culture Secretary Andy Burnham has spoken against product placement on TV. As Ben Fenton reports for The Financial Times, he told a media industry audience in London yesterday that there was a danger of product placement further eroding trust in TV. It's a viewpoint that the Guild's TV Committee agrees with and has lobbied for to Ofcom and others.
[Burnham's] opposition to product placement was bound to have been badly received at ITV. Michael Grade, executive chairman of the UK’s largest broadcaster, and Rupert Howell, his commercial director, have extolled the possibilities involved in allowing advertisers to pay for the inclusion of their products in high-profile, mass audience programmes such as Coronation Street.

The product placement issue has arisen because of a European Commission directive on audio-visual industries. It requires EU member states to say by the summer whether they will permit product placement. Mr Burnham said he was willing to hear counter-arguments but made clear where he stood.

“There is a risk that product placement exacerbates this decline in trust and contaminates our programmes,” he said. “There is a risk that, at the very moment when television needs to do all it can to show it can be trusted, we elide the distinction between programmes and adverts.”
ITV shares fell by nearly 3% following the news, and were down further this morning.

There's a debate on the issue of product placement on The Guardian Organ Grinder blog.

Update 09.39: Coincidentally, screenwriter John August has just blogged on the subject of 'product integration'.

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