Product placement faces opposition in U.K.

Culture secretary says the practice crosses a line

LONDON -- In a move that will cause dismay among British producers and commercial broadcasters, Culture Secretary Andy Burnham on Wednesday signaled his opposition to allowing product placement on U.K. screens.

Both groups have been lobbying government to relax the current rules and open up new sources of program funding. But Burnham, who has ministerial oversight of the broadcasting industry, said there is a risk that product integration could "contaminate" British television programs "revered around the world" for their integrity.

"Here and now I want to signal that I think there are some lines that we should not cross -- one of which is that you can buy the space between programs on commercial channels but not the space within them," he said in a speech to a government think tank.

"As a viewer, I don't want to feel the script has been written by the commercial marketing director," he added.

Ofcom, the U.K.'s media regulator, is reviewing the potential introduction of product placement on U.K. screens, following a relaxation of European Union legislation from 2010. The final decision will be made by the culture secretary this year.