UK media and telecoms watchdog Ofcom has stepped into the latest controversy about product placement on British television.

As reported earlier this week, the nation's self-governing BBC has launched an internal investigation into alleged breaches of its strict product placement rules [WAMN: 28-Sept-05].

Now Ofcom, whose remit exludes the state-owned broadcaster, has issued a set of guidance notes which say it is acceptable to include brands in TV shows because they are "an integral part of modern society".

The regulator adds: ". . . there is no absolute prohibition on the appearance of, or reference to, brand products and services within programs".

But Ofcom stresses that such appearances must be editorially justified and that "advertising and programming should be distinguishable from one another". The regulator will review the whole issue of product placement later this year.

Currently European Union broadcast regulations forbid payment from companies to feature brands in shows. In the USA, on the other hand, such TV exposure is now commonplace and last year generated $1.87 billion (€1.55bn; £1.06bn) in revenues.

Data sourced from; additional content by WARC staff