Product Placement, right or wrong?

Posted on February 6, 2010

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Unsurprisingly, with an election imminent, Culture Secretary Ben Bradshaw has had another rethink on the TV product placement ban and decided to ban product placement of alcoholic drinks, HFSS [high in fat, sugar or salt] food, gambling, smoking accessories, over-the-counter medicines and baby food as advertising these products could increase problems such as obesity and alcohol-related harm. 
What nonsense. As a parent I clearly don’t want to see Tracy Beaker  smashed on White Lightning at breakfast time but seeing beer (or any alcohol) responsibly consumed on appropriate television programmes should be seen as a key part of alcohol education, a way to normalise the consumption of alcohol and reduce alcohol harm in the long term. 
Obviously as a society we have a duty to protect our children from inappropriate advertising  (actually as a parent that responsibility lies solely with me but it would seem that not everyone feels the same) but by making alcohol more of a taboo and  hiding it out of view in TV programmes that are a reflection of real life is not the answer. All that will do is drive more teenagers to their local park with bottles of cheap cider. Blanket prohibition is never going to solve the problem, what we need is a targeted, properly funded, long term government-led campaign to address binge drinking that ministers are as equally vocal about post the election
And we should be doing more to support UK broadcasters, the reason for the review in the first place. According to Ofcom lifting the ban on product placement could lead to UK broadcasters making annual revenues in the region of £25m to £35m per year after five years, which would lead to better programming and reduce the reliance on dreadful reality TV shows. Without this only Sky, with the income from subscriptions, will be able carry on with decent programming losing us something that I believe should be free. 
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