New EU rules permit product placement

November 14th, 2007 | by Andrew Ó Baoill |

New EU-wide regulations for product placement in TV content are on the way, after being approved in the European parliament. In the past product placement has not been allowed in many, if not all, EU countries, but that’s all about to change.

The claim from those pushing product placement is that banning it puts EU producers at an economic disadvantage. In a recognition of the serious problems with product placement, “advertising of products will not be allowed in news, current affairs, documentary, advice and childrens’ programmes.” The notion that news or documentary programming could contain product placement hadn’t really occurred to me previously – I suppose I should be grateful that the bar has been set somewhere, even if it is rather low. Another requirement – that “signals must appear when a programme containing product placement starts, when it ends and after commercial breaks” – may also have some limited value.

Other parts of the regulations may appear to offer protections in related areas, but again the bar is fairly low. For instance, commercial breaks “will be allowed every 30 minutes in TV films, cinematographic works and news programmes – but must not exceed 12 minutes an hour.” Existing Irish regulations set 45 minutes as the maximum frequency of breaks during films. Depending on how the regulation is worded, this 45 limit may be able to continue or the Irish authorities may be required to lower the floor to 30 minutes.

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