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EU to approve product placement in TV shows

LONDON - The European Union is set to give the green light to product placement within UK TV programmes following pressure from broadcasters and brand owners to relax the current restrictions.

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Currently, branded products can not be placed into programmes in exchange for a fee or service, despite the fact that it is a multimillion-pound industry in the US.

However, in July the EU published proposed legislation for member states to follow, as part of its ongoing revision of its Television Without Frontiers Directive.

Last week EU media commissioner Viviane Reding said that while product placement was a reality, strict rules governing its use would still be required. One recommendation is for such placements to be clearly identified at the start of shows, so that viewers are aware of them.

"Our goal should be to increase consumer information while acknowledging that product placement is a form of advertising," she said.

Advertisers welcomed the move, according to ISBA, but it called for flexibility as to where in a programme the placements are identified.

New technology, such as Sky+ and TiVo, enable viewers to skip ads, which has forced brand owners to seek other ways of reaching them.

Last week, the BBC came under fire for allegedly breaching guidelines after a newspaper report claimed agencies were paying up to £40,000 to advertise products within its programmes.

The BBC's editorial policy states that there should be no such placements and it has launched an investigation.

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