While product placement is rife in the US, this is the first time paid-for references to products and services will be allowed in soaps and one-off dramas produced in the UK.
Ofcom regulations state that broadcasters must make viewers aware by displaying the letter “P” for three seconds at the beginning and end of any programme that contains product placement, and that any placement must be “editorially justified”.
Cigarettes and other tobacco products, and prescription medication are not permitted in any programmes. Alcoholic drinks, gambling products, medicine, and food and drink with high fat, salt, or sugar content are also banned from appearing in UK programmes.
Product placement will not be allowed in news, current affairs or children’s and remains banned from BBC shows.
Commercial broadcasters and independent producers have welcomed the news, saying it will help to pay for programmes, but Church of England leaders and doctors argued that it could “damage trust and promote unhealthy lifestyles”.
According to the BBC, the first product placement to air on British TV will be a Nescafé coffee machine on ITV1’s This Morning.
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