UK media watchdog Ofcom is coming under increasing pressure from within the TV industry to ease strict rules on product placement.

A conference in London on the future of broadcasting heard from Peter Bazalgette, chief creative officer of TV production company Endemol, that product placement is essential in a commercial television market under threat from ad-skipping digital video recorders.

Bazalgette, whose own hugely successful reality show Big Brother is arguably a prime candidate for the controversial practice, says Ofcom must relax its "ridiculous" rules.

Otherwise, he warns, the business model of the UK's biggest commercial broadcaster, ITV, "will melt away. That big, advertiser-funded business will be a goner."

He describes the advance of DVRs during the next five to 10 years as "one of the most important economic issues facing this industry now".

And his warning comes hot on the heels of research by technology consultants Accenture, which says up to 10% of US television commercials will be skipped by 2009 [WAMN: 24-Jun-05].

Ofcom's deputy chairman Richard Hooper has defended the regulator's tough stance, saying: "Wherever we end up [with product placement], the key message for broadcasters will be that you have a key role in telling viewers about the content they are getting. If you are selling me something, I want to know you are selling me something and it's not editorial."

A review of the rules has been promised for later this year.

Data sourced from; additional content by WARC staff