Product placement approved in UK

21 December 2010

LONDON: Product placement will officially be introduced in Britain early next year, allowing media owners to access a new source of revenue.

Ofcom, the UK's communications watchdog, has outlined the regulations that are to govern the practice, permitted as of 28 February 2011, following a formal consultation regarding the matter.

Whenever marketers have paid to include their goods in shows, broadcasters will be required to display a logo - which must remain on screen for three seconds or more - at the start and finish of programmes.

The logo should also be aired at the end of commercial breaks, Ofcom stated.

News, current affairs and religious content are not to incorporate brands in such a way, a restriction similarly applying to material specifically targeted at children.

Alcoholic drinks, tobacco, medicine, baby milk, unhealthy foods and gambling are among the categories prohibited from utilising this strategy.

Any paid-for placement is to avoid an "unduly prominent" position and should be "editorially justified".

MirriAd, a specialist product placement firm, predicted this area might ultimately take 5% of the UK's television market - which would be roughly equivalent to its share in the US.

If MirriAd's forecast proves accurate, product placement would deliver around £150m ($233m; €177m) to broadcasters in the country.

Radio has also seen a loosening of the existing protocol, meaning privately-funded stations can discuss goods and services, as long as they fully disclosure the nature of this arrangement.

But news bulletins may not be permitted to be sponsored by advertisers, a move Clive Dickens, chief operating officer of Absolute Radio, described as holding back a "a valuable new revenue stream".

"All we are asking for is alignment. Commercial radio is still heavily regulated compared to other countries including the US and Australia," he told the Guardian.

Data sourced from Media Guardian; additional content by Warc staff