Advertising To Enter Our Programmes

It was decided yesterday to allow product placement on British TV for the first time ever, but will this simply turn out viewing into one big commercial?

The idea of product placement is that companies pay to get their products featured in TV shows. For example, Apple could pay ITV to feature their laptops in one of their drama’s. The idea is to to get the product in the subconscious of the viewing public without specifically advertising it.

It has always been banned in British TV, but yesterday the culture secretary Ben Bradshaw announced that ‘theIRobotwentalittleoverboardwiththeproductplacement...climate has changed’ and has agreed to lifting the ban. It;s designed to help the likes of ITV who are losing massive revenue with their current advertising due to lower viewing figures and PVR’s which allow viewers to skip commercials.

The introduction of product placement is a very damaging idea in my opinion. It’ll all start off innocently, but how long before Rebus is telling us the advantages of his new iPhone, the IT crowd list off all the songs available in the new Guitar Hero and the folks of Corrie let us know why Carlsberg is probably the best beer in the world.

I love some of the quality there is on TV, there’s some great writing, great acting and real entertainment to be found. I don’t want all of that to be forgotten in exchange for characters we know promoting products we don’t want to know.

Product placement is not new to America where is dominates schedules and films. A good example is i Robot, a film made up  of FedEx, Converse trainers and Audi. Let’s not forget the classic moment where the camera zooms right in on the Audi logo on Will Smith’s car. I don’t want advertising thrown at my face all the time! I don’t want our media to be ruined by it.

But there is of course the problem of lower advertising revenues. Why dies ITV have so little money? Is it because it was possibly a little complacent. Is it because it wasted millions on shows that would never work (‘Celebrity Love Island/Wrestling’ I’m looking at you). Yes the advertisers are less willing to pay as much, but ITV could still manage without if they’d just been a little more careful in the ‘glory days’. We shouldn’t need to introduce product placement to save our commercial broadcasters.

I’ll finish this little rant with a quote from Andy Burnham, chief executive of Channel 4

“We have consistently taken the view that confusing the lines between editorial and advertising raises serious issues of trust for viewers. Relaxing the rules would deliver a marginal commercial benefit and do little to redress the growing funding imbalance between state- and advertising-funded broadcasting.”

Read more on this story at Media Guardian and have you say in our Poll on the right.

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