The UK government is pondering feedback from its recently closed consultation on freeing up TV product placement rules as part of implementing the EU Audio Visual Media Services Directive. What are other EU states currently doing and planning on product placement? Carla Basso and Omar Bucchioni report the key results of a unique international survey.
Topic: Product Placement
Who: EU Member States
When: October 2008
Law stated as at: 21 November 2008
Osborne Clarke recently conducted a pan-EU survey on the implementation of the product placement rules set out in the Audiovisual Media Services Directive 2007/65/EC (“AVMS”). Law firms in each of the territories were asked for their prediction on (a) whether product placement is likely to be allowed in their countries and (b) how their regulators are considering implementing the relevant rules of the AVMS Directive.
From the results of our snapshot survey, it appears that the UK Government’s position against product placement is well out of line with most of the EU.
Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, Slovak Republic, Spain and Sweden have all indicated they are in favour of liberalising the product placement rules in line with the AVMS Directive.
Just five EU states currently anti pp
Only Austria, Estonia, Latvia and Slovenia have taken the UK position and indicated they are against allowing product placement.
Although in a few Member States (Bulgaria, Lithuania, Malta and Poland) the jury is still out, as they have yet to fully consider the AVMS rules, the scales still appear to be firmly tipped against the UK’s viewpoint.
So is it curtains for UK producers hoping to tap into these new revenue streams? Not yet it seems: whilst UK government ministers have indicated their reluctance to allow a relaxation of the rules in the UK, officially we are still waiting for the results of the UK Government’s AVMS consultation to be published.
The UK media industry also soldiers on with its lobbying, hoping to persuade government to change tack.
Proposed pp code of practice
ITV and Pact – the trade body for the £1bn UK independent production sector – joined forces to press UK ministers to allow product placement, saying that a ban threatens investment in a vital domestic industry. They have issued a proposed code of practice for how placement could safely work.
Under the Code, the programme’s producer would decide if a particular product could be used and how prominently, not the sponsoring company. A separate commercial team would be used to approach potential brand owners after the script had been completed, assuring editorial independence and integrity. They have suggested that viewers could be informed of the existence of product placement by a “PP” logo in the corner of the screen of the programme. This suggestion has also come from several of the other EU member states who favour allowing product placement.
Why this matters:
If the results of the survey are confirmed in practice and product placement is allowed in the majority of the EU countries, then the “level playing field” intended by the Directive will fail to materialise, and the financial situation for programme makers in the UK looks increasingly bleak. They will find themselves unable to access product placement financing here, but their programming will still competing against non-UK producers who can tap into these revenues.
In the current economic climate, where traditional financing routes are becoming less available, any alternative revenue streams are hugely valuable, and cash-strapped broadcasters and producers can only hope that the UK government changes its mind.