The Church of England has joined community and public broadcasting campaigners in urging the Government to uphold the prohibition on product placement in TV programmes, following commercial pressure to end it.
In a position statement on the issue, the Church of England warned that placing branded goods in TV soaps, dramas and other programmes was not in the interests of the public and would blur the line between editorial content and commercial messages.
The Culture Secretary, Ben Bradshaw, has launched a consultation on product placement. He believes a partial lifting of the ban may give a financial boost to the commercial broadcasters that have lost advertising revenue in the recession.
Popular TV shows like 'Eastenders' currently have to cover up logos and labels on products. The Government’s proposal would maintain the ban on product placement in children’s TV shows and BBC programmes.
In a submission to the consultation, the Church of England declared: “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.
“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”.
It continues: “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."
The Church says: “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.”