Product Placement on UK TV

Ofcom, the UK media regulator, today confirmed that the ban on product placement on UK television will end in February 2010.Ofcom’s new rules “will enable commercial broadcasters to access new sources of revenue, whilst providing protection for audiences,” the regulator said.

The guidelines state broadcasters must alert viewers when programmes containing product placement are aired by using an on-screen logo.

Certain categories of programmes including children’s programming or news programmes are excluded from the changes. Product placement will also be barred in current affairs shows and from religious programmes. Placement will of some products will not be allowed including alcohol, tobacco, gambling, medicines, baby milk and foods that are high in sugar or salt.

Estimates of the size of the UK product placement market are varied. Product placement company MirriAd claims it should be worth at least 5% of the total UK TV advertising market, as in the US. That would give it an annual value of £150 million.

An ITV spokesman welcomed the move, which he described as “reforming UK prohibition”. He added that ITV had led the campaign for product placement in the UK, and said it could be an important new revenue stream, as it already is in Europe.