There are concerns in some quarters that the decision by The Department of Culture to allow product placement on commercially produced programmes in the UK will plunge broadcasting standards down to a new low. The Culture Secretary Ben Bradshaw is proposing a three month consultation before finally confirming the lifting of the current ban on product placement in a bid to allay these concerns.
There could however be some exciting new developments resulting from product placement. It is believed that edgy teenage dramas such as Skins and the Inbetweeners will allow the manufacturers of condoms, sex toys and 'lubricants' strategically to 'place their products' as and when appropriate. It is also thought that major cocaine, heroin and marijuana dealers will pay producers big money to show drugs as being freely available - and even possibly good - for young people. Arms manufacturers hope crime dramas will showcase their hardware, allowing a certain make of gun or of knife to be waved freely around in a threatening manner, with, say, the hero always carrying the more expensive, more refined model.
Commercial broadcasters and advertisers claimed today that ordinary viewers had nothing to fear from seeing product placement on their favorite programmes, since it would not generate anything out of the ordinary. Said one: "What's weird about seeing people in the Rover's Return or Queen Vic sipping insipid keg beers and piss-poor lagers before diving into their pot noodles and pork scratchings? And what is the problem with DCI Jane Tennyson washing down her Nurofen Plus with half a litre of Smirnoff? It's kind of what you'd expect anyway."
"The sort of people who watch programmes containing product placement will feel very much at home with the trash that producers will be placing. And let's face it, there could not be anything more naff and degenerate on television right now than mainstream television adverts... like that one with an irritating nodding dog or that directory enquiries one with those pathetic mustachioed men. Not to mention those ghastly sponsorship announcements at the beginnings and the ends of programmes. So can standards on commercial television really get much worse? Somehow I think not."