UK Minister Softens Hard Line On TV Product Placement

28 July 2008

LONDON: Andy Burnham (pictured),  the minister who bears the burden of running the government's most fatuous political hybrid, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, has toned-down his opposition to product placement in TV programmes.

In June he insisted he would not accept PP, charging that it would "contaminate" the editorial integrity of UK television output.

However, he changed key in an interview on Friday with The Guardian, telling the newspaper he was prepared to give broadcasters an opportunity to convince him that PP's benefits tipped the scales against the downside.

Sweet reasonableness personified, Burnham insisted: "I am not inflexible. I'm not in denial or immune to the pressure on what might be called old media. My instincts remain my instincts.

"But I have seen [that] some people feel very strongly indeed about it. The offer is a genuine. If [proponents say PP] is for the public good, crucial to save or bolster public service broadcasting ... then I will weigh that."

But the secretary questioned whether Ofcom's estimate of income from product placement (£25m-£35m annually after five years) would outweigh the disadvantages.

"Is it worth the price of losing something precious? The integrity of programmes is worth more than that," he said. "My whole aim is to look to the future and I want to maintain standards, integrity and quality."

Among the arguments posited by PP proponents is that US-made TV programmes and movies aired in the UK already carry product placement with little or no complaints from viewers.

Burnham, however, appears unconvinced. "I have responsibility for the sustainability of public service broadcasting. Some solutions are more palatable than others. Product placement is over that line."

Data sourced from; additional content by WARC staff