EU thwarts plans for product placement

The European Union has dealt a blow to plans to lift the ban on TV product placement, saying the practice "should continue to be prohibited".

A statement issued by EU ministers this week said exceptions could be made "only in certain cases" where the product placement must be clearly identified "at least" at the start and end of a TV programme. The EU ministers ruled against the proposal to display a logo every 20 minutes, as it would increase the advertising impact.

The decision goes against a vote by the European Parliament last year to lift the ban and bring European TV rules in line with the US TV and film industries (Campaign, 17 November, 2006).

The European Parliament voted to allow the practice, as long as the placement was clearly identified and did not mislead. It will be prohibited from news, current affairs and children's programming.

The EU and the European Parliament have co-decision powers over the rules. The EU is confident the rules, which are part of the directive Audiovisual Content without Frontiers, will be finalised by May.