While the European Commission remains resolutely opposed to product placement on television, British media and communications regulator Ofcom is bending to the blandishments of cash-hungry TV broadcasters over the thorny issue.

On Wednesday Ofcom announced its intention to review the UK ban on product placement, presumably as a result of vigorous lobbying by the TV industry.

ITV, Britain's largest commercial broadcaster commanding over fifty per cent of all TV adspend, has been hit particularly hard by the ongoing fragmentation and proliferation of the TV ad market [WAMN: 25-May-05] and sees product placement as the magic bullet.

Along with Britain's largest radio group GCap, ITV is urging relaxation of product placement rules. The EC, however, has made it clear it has no intention of softening its stance on the issue - a situation likely to have the same impact on Ofcom's forthcoming review as did George Galloway on a US Senate committee.

  • On the sponsorship front, however, Ofcom has flung open the doors of Liberty Hall. More than thirty pages of previous regulations have been reduced to three. Sponsorship of all kinds will be allowed provided it ...
      -- is clearly labelled as such;

      -- remains separate from the programming;

      -- does not affect editorial independence.
    It will not be allowed for news and current affairs programmes. And businesses prohibited from broadcast advertising, such as tobacco or firearms, will still be barred from sponsorship.

    Data sourced from Financial Times Online; additional content by WARC staff