29 December 2009
The ban on branded goods appearing on popular soaps, dramas and other programmes should be maintained, says the Church of England in a submission sent today to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.
The long-standing prohibition on product placement in UK television is currently under review after the Culture Secretary suggested earlier this year that a partial lifting of the constraints might reap financial benefits for commercial broadcasters. The decision to review the ban followed a consultation which closed in the spring of this year and concluded the ban should remain in place.
The Church shares the concerns of a range of organisations, including consumer bodies and health promotion groups, that suggest the blurring of the line currently separating editorial content from commercial messages is not in the interests of the public, and may damage trust in the integrity of broadcasters.
“Retaining trust in broadcasters’ integrity and editorial balance is key to maintaining strong relationships between audience and broadcaster, which in turn has both civic/societal and economic benefits,” argues the Church’s submission. “For this reason, the Church of England is opposed to changes to the current regulatory regime, even outside public service content and news and current affairs.”
The Church questions “why it is thought any easier to gain a more accurate picture of the scale of opportunity now than it was less than a year ago. Indeed, given the ongoing uncertainty about the future prospects for advertising revenues, it seems highly unlikely that any large potential-sponsor is currently in a position to make firm claims about the additional expenditure it would be likely to make under a different regulatory regime… We remain entirely unconvinced that the unquantifiable benefit to a small number of commercial broadcasters in any lifting of the ban on product placement outweighs the potential detrimental effect on public trust in the editorial integrity of television programming.”
The Church’s full submission to the DCMS review on product placement can be found here.