Something that has been a staple of American television for years is expected to come to the UK shortly. It has been announced that Independent broadcasters will now be able to use product placement in their shows. This product placement should help boost the earnings of the companies during the recession but some feel that there are still serious concerns over this practice.
Ironically, product placement is already a part of some shows on British TV. It seams that American television and films have slipped the net when it comes to the product placement argument. Of course, sometimes you will find a film has been edited for TV but in a week where we see the first showing of Casino Royal (19 September, ITV) can any of us really say that we have not already been effected by product placement? The James Bond franchise has been one of the most insidious proponants of product placement. We all know what kind of car he drives, the watch he wears, even his favourite brand of gun. The question has to be asked, has it done us any harm?
Speaking to the BBC, Peter Bazalgette (the creator of Big Brother) gave his thoughts. “My prediction is that it could be worth £100m a year to commercial TV.
“Product placement needs to be done transparently, with credits that make it clear it has taken place.
“But you have to trust the consumer. If it’s overdone or tasteless viewers will switch off.
“And it’s rife in British television anyway. There’s product placement in movies that go on television and in imported American TV shows and dramas.
“And what about those sports events where sponsors’ logos are worn on shirts? Product placement won’t dramatically change the way we watch TV.”
Even though the ban may be lifted for indipendant companies, it seams that the BBC will still remain impartial as they will still have to adhear to the restrictions. Childrens programms too will not be excused, which is one of the two main arguments for keeping the ban in place. The other, editiroal independance, will have to be tested with time. In the US (which seams to be the testcase for this subject) this independance has been called in to question. In this country, however, we already have the trusted, and still independant, BBC. Perhaps that will be enough to stave off the critisism.