As expected, Ofcom has confirmed that product placement will be allowed on UK television from the end of February.
The media regulator has published a set of rules that will govern how products can be promoted as part of a revised broadcasting code following a consultation with the industry. Ofcom’s new rules “will enable commercial broadcasters to access new sources of revenue, whilst providing protection for audiences,” the regulator said.
The new rules come into force on February 28th and have been incorporated into the broadcasting code, a legal framework enforced by Ofcom.
Broadcasters will have to alert viewers when programmes containing product placement are aired by using an on-screen logo. This logo will be unveiled by Ofcom in the new year and will have to appear for a minimum of three seconds at the start and end of programmes that contain product placement. It will also appear after shows return from commercial breaks.
Product placement will not be permitted in children’s programming, news programmes, current affairs shows produced in the UK and religious programmes.
Four categories of content; films (which in this case includes dramas and documentaries), TV series including soap operas, entertainment shows and sports programmes will be free to use product placement.
Placement of alcohol and tobacco products is also barred and the same restrictions apply to gambling, medicines, weapons, escort agencies, baby milk and foods that are high in sugar or salt.
EU and UK legislation also states that products cannot be advertised in an “unduly prominent” way and the new guidelines include a requirement to ensure references are “editorially justified”. That will prevent broadcasters from filling shows with products or services that have little or no context in their programmes.