7th Jul 2020

EU rules on product placement look set for end of year approval

New EU rules allowing the placement of products in TV programmes could be signed off by the end of the year following agreement by MEPs in the culture committee earlier this week.

Product placement is a form of advertising in which programme-makers are paid to display branded products in TV shows.

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It caused the most controversy during the legislative process with critics saying there will no longer be any balance between what consumers want to see in their TV programmes and what broadcasters judge to be sufficient advertising.

Centre-right German MEP Ruth Hieronymi, in charge of bringing the law through parliament, welcomed the agreement which has been thrashed out over extended negotiations between member states and MEPs.

"Media pluralism and cultural diversity are safeguarded and as well the opportunity to develop new business models," said Ms Hieronymi.

Under the rules, which could be given the go ahead by the main parliamentary assembly on 29 November, products can be placed in general entertainment programmes.

The advertising of products will not be allowed in news, current affairs, documentary, advice and childrens' programmes.

MEPs added a safeguard to the rules under which signals must appear when a programme containing product placement starts, when it ends and after commercial breaks.

At the moment, product placement is banned in most EU member states. However, it has been common in the US since the 1970s, creating an unfair competitive advantage for US productions, say supporters of the new rules.

The rules also regulate commercial breaks in TV. They will be allowed every 30 minutes in TV films, cinematographic works and news programmes - but must not exceed 12 minutes an hour.

Children's programmes will also have commercial breaks but only if the programmes are longer than half an hour.

The new rules, which are likely to be written into the EU law book before the end of the year, modernise current TV rules to bring them into line with new developments in audiovisual technology and advertising.

They will also cover new technologies - such as the internet, mobile phones and video-on-demand.

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