Germany loosens product placement laws

Ruling affects commercial and public TV channels

BERLIN -- German TV viewers will soon learn the joys of product placement, following a decision Thursday to loosen the laws that forbid broadcasters from showing TV actors snacking at McDonald's or drinking an ice-cold Coke.

Starting in April, German TV shows will be able to insert products into fictional programming. But the channels have to inform viewers of the fact with a logo before and after the show, as well as after every commercial break.

The ruling allows product placement on both commercial and public channels, though public broadcasters will not be allowed to cash in by selling placements to advertisers. A cop show on pubweb ARD, however, can now accept a free car from Volkswagen for example without breaking the law.

German networks hope product placement will help offset production costs and partially compensate for the decline in traditional television advertising.
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