Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Product placement consultation

The long-running debating about whether or not product placement should be allowed in British-made TV shows is continuing with a new public consultation from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport - closing date 8 January 2010.

The previous consultation in 2008 resulted in the Government deciding against product placement, to the anger of commercial TV producers and broadcasters. But, with a new Secretary of State, Ben Bradshaw, they have reconsidered.
The Government is currently minded to permit product placement on UK television, subject to safeguards. But the arguments remain finely balanced. We remain concerned in particular about the potential health issues associated with the promotion of particular types of goods by means of product placement.
(from page 4 of the consultation paper - pdf)
Product placement would not be permitted in children's programmes.

In The Guardian, Jackie Schneider puts the case against.
Product placement is an underhand way for companies to advertise to the public by stealth. The Guardian's very own Simon Hoggart describes it as is "a form of corruption, by which elements of our favourite shows are covertly sold off to the highest bidder without our being told".



    The Guild has already submitted a paper for the previous consultation but we know, as writers, there's nothing like having to do the same work again. Many thanks to Edel Brosnan who is currently preparing another paper representing the Guild's views.

    For those of you who would like to see the Guild's last blog on the subject:

    As ever, it's vital that the proper safeguards and gatekeepers are put in place before any changes, not after. If we're not careful, Jack Duckworth could end up driving a Porsche whilst eating fried tofu and we know he'd hate that.

  2. It's about checks and balances though - product placement does not mean - or does not have to mean - ceding editorial control. Jack Duckworth can crash the Porsche, or complain about the rubbish suspension. And times are hard in TV drama right now - it would be even worse if there was no Jack Duckworth at all.

    As a Brett Easton Ellis fan I think you can use a label to say something about a certain kind of character. And the no brand-names ever, sticky-back plastic/ soda pop rule at the BBC can feel very constraining.

  3. Quite right, Edel. And why hasn't anyone ever marketed a brand of tape called Sticky-Backed Plastic? They'd make a fortune thanks to the Beeb.


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