The introduction reads:
In an ideal world, the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain would retain the ban on product placement (PP). However, the Guild recognises that income from traditional advertising revenue and programme sponsorship is in a state of flux. Scripted drama and comedy is being squeezed from the schedules by reality television formats, including shows like the X Factor, which is in practice an advertorial for artists on a particular record label. Viewers are already exposed to PP in shows imported from the United States, in feature films (including British-made films) and in numerous boxed and online videogames. PP is also permitted on online drama: this anomaly will become more apparent as online and digital content platforms converge.
British television is hugely important, not just as a commercial enterprise, but as a vibrant and vital part of British life and culture. We do not foresee any circumstances where PP aimed at children would be acceptable and we welcome the decision to retain the ban on PP in children’s television.
But television production in this country is facing an unprecedented funding crisis; writers, producers and writer-producers are forced to compete on an unlevel playing field with overseas and online competitors. In this climate, the option of product placement in programmes for adults needs to be considered pragmatically. To quote Gail Renard, former chair of the WGGB and a BAFTA-winning screenwriter: “I'm not against product placement under carefully considered and controlled circumstances… but it can neither be a knee-jerk reaction nor miracle cure for poor network management and/or programming.”
In principle, the WGGB remains cautious about the advisability and workability of PP. In practice, we hope that clear guidelines and robust regulation will ensure that the benefits of PP outweigh the disadvantages.