Euro Parliament Mulls Product Placement

09 November 2006

BRUSSELS: German members of the European Parliament are threatening to flex their political muscles and derail proposals to relax rules on paid television product placement across the continent.

The European Commission is in the process of reviewing its Television without Frontiers Directive which presently bans this type of advertising in member states.

Paid product placement, which is allowed in the US and is set to squeeze more than $3 billion (€2.33bn; £1.58bn) this year from advertising budgets worldwide, would unlock a fresh revenue stream for traditional broadcasters in Europe.

They are facing competition from digital and cable channels and growing sales of personal video recorders which allow viewers to skip ads.

Parliament and each individual member state would have to ratify any loosening of the regulations.

The German MEPs, however, led by Ruth Hieronmyi claim there is no consensus in the Parliament.

In an interview with British newspaper The Times she says: "Product placement, and any other advertising-related topics, are still controversial. Members believe there should be anything from no regulation to 100 per cent regulation — we shall have to see what achieves a majority."

Hieronmyi herself is opposed to any liberalization except "in specific cases where — as in cinema and television films — there is competition with American products in Europe, and in sports programmes".

Data sourced from The Times Online (UK); additional content by WARC staff