Lobbyists slam product placement consultation


LONDON - The government has been accused by health and education groups of 'rushing through' its consultation on the introduction of product placement to UK television programming.

The consultation period will last just eight weeks, which has angered campaigners, including the National Union of Teachers, the National Heart Forum, the Association of Teachers and Lecturers and the Children's Food Campaign. They claim it should be extended to three months, as it will run over the Christmas period, and argue that such a brief consultation is in breach of the government's own guidelines.

A spokeswoman for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport defended the government's position, saying it had already carried out a 12-week consultation last year.

'We are satisfied that two months is sufficient to allow interested parties to respond fully,' she added. 

However, Children's Food Campaign co-ordinator Jackie Schneider insisted that the plans were being rushed through. 'I'm not reassured by any protection proposals for children,' she added. 'Even though children's programmes will be exempt, 70% of TV watched by children is outside of this.'

The government has said it will restrict the promotion of unhealthy food, gambling and alcohol in TV shows. The consultation document refers to its concern regarding 'the potential health issues associated with the promotion of particular types of goods' and says it will introduce 'safeguards'.

In the US, Coca-Cola is the biggest practitioner of product placement with nearly 3000 instances in the first six months of 2008, according to Nielsen.

Culture secretary Ben Bradshaw is leading the consultation and has said the proposal to allow product placement was intended to ensure that broadcasters do not suffer from being 'overly strictly regulated'.

The government and TV industry figures hope that allowing its use in UK programming will open up an extra revenue stream for broadcasters




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