The UK media uber regulator has already indicated that it believes current sponsorship/branded content/product placement rules for UK commercial TV to be disproportionately restrictive. More on Stephen Carter’s latest pronouncements on the topic at
Stephen Carter, Chief Executive of Ofcom
Incorporated Society of British Advertisers Conference
At a conference of the Incorporated Society of British Advertisers Stephen Carter, Ofcom Chief Executive, referred in a keynote address to branded content on UK commercial TV. He talked about the ban on product placement that has been in place since the birth of commercial television in the UK.
Marketinglaw has in the past commented on the absurdity of this ban in the light of the widespread paid-for appearance of brands in US films being screened all the time on UK TV.
At the conference, Carter himself expressed the clear view that the days of this blanket ban were numbered.
He was not suggesting a complete relaxation of the rules: care would still need to be taken to differentiate between factual and entertainment programming to ensure that inappropriate sponsorship did not occur. At the end of the day, however, viewers were savvy enough to not be bamboozled by branded placement.
Why this matters:
In his speech, Carter not only looked at product placement but also at wider advertiser-funded programming issues as well as branded content generally. In all these areas, he clearly felt that a more relaxed regime ought to be workable without threatening editorial independence or consumer interests.
This was certainly not the first time that Ofcom had expressed these views, and of course at the end of the day there can be no relaxation of the UK regime that goes beyond the rules laid down by the EU "Television without frontiers" directive, which has a fair deal to say about sponsorship of TV programmes and on product placement, forbids "surreptitious advertising".
As for product placement, the current ban is only on advertisers paying broadcasters in cash or kind to showcase their brands in editorial content. From Stephen Carter's speech, however, it looks as though it will not be long now before we see the liberalisation of this rule and other rules currently severely restricting advertiser involvement in TV programming.