Product placement under U.K. govt spotlight

Consultation into VOD services also begins

LONDON -- The U.K. government has called on broadcasters here to "put forward a convincing case" to obtain relaxed product placement rules.

Culture Secretary Andy Burnham, launching consultation on regulatory plans for product placement and VOD services, said: "My instincts remain that if we were to relax the ban on product placement we would put at risk the integrity in British programming that underpins its international reputation."

But Burnham said he is "open to hearing other views." Said Burnham: "If, as some in the industry are saying, this is a crucial step for broadcasters, then the industry must marshal strong arguments and put forward a convincing case."

The proposals are part of a comprehensive consultation on how the U.K, should bring the European Union's Audio Visual Media Services (AVMS) Directive into force here.

The AVMS Directive states that all EU member states must prohibit product placement, but they may decide to allow certain exemptions.

Currently product placement is banned on any U.K. made programs. The government has previously said its initial view is not to change this.

But the consultation will allow broadcasters and suppliers an opportunity to argue against the ban.

The consultation runs for three months and closes October 31 this year.