Product placement ban on British TV lifted

American Idol judges Advertisers in the US pay millions of dollars to place their products in films and TV programmes

A ban on product placement has been lifted, allowing advertisers to pay for their goods to be seen on British TV.

Paid-for references to products and services are now permitted for the first time in shows produced in the UK, including soaps and one-off dramas.

The first product, a Nescafe coffee machine, has appeared on This Morning.

The Church of England and doctors' leaders have opposed the move, saying it could damage trust in broadcasters and promote unhealthy lifestyles.


Blink and you'd have missed it - but Britain's first product placement has hit the screen.

A Nescafe coffee machine - the Dolce Gusto, for aficionados - could be seen on ITV1's This Morning, just over Phil Vickery's shoulder as he cooked some lamb.

More prominent were the 'P' logo, telling viewers there was product placement in the programme, and a trail in the ad break, explaining the rules. Don't expect much more at this stage.

Dramas will be a fruitful area - think cars, computers and mobile phones - but they are made months ahead.

And don't look for US-style Coca Cola cups on X Factor. They would be counted out under two rules - "undue prominence" and "products high in fat, sugar and salt".

Under Ofcom regulations, broadcasters must inform viewers by displaying the letter 'P' for three seconds at the start and end of a programme that contains product placement.

The telecoms regulator has said any placement must be editorially justified and not unduly prominent.

It will not be allowed in news, current affairs or children's programmes - or for alcoholic drinks and foods high in salt, sugar and fat.

And it will continue to be banned for BBC shows.

In the United States, advertisers such as Coca-Cola and Apple pay millions of dollars to place their products in films and TV programmes.

When the European Union lifted its ban on such payments, there was heated debate over whether it should be allowed in productions made in the UK.

Commercial broadcasters and independent producers argued it would help pay for programmes.

But Church leaders were among those who said it could damage trust and promote unhealthy lifestyles.

The last Labour government eventually gave the go-ahead, but only after setting out strict limitations.


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