The new Draft Directive, finalised on 24 May 2007, allows for the disputed practice of product placement - brand marketeers paying for their products being visibly used and displayed in made-for-TV productions. The Commission argues that "recent figures from countries that permit product placement suggest that clear rules should help the European audiovisual industry to become more competitive, especially compared with the USA".
It added that "an independent study published in March 2007 found that global paid product placement grew 37% in 2006 and is forecast to grow 30% in 2007. TV placements remain the dominant choice of brand marketeers, accounting for 71% of global spending."
The German Presidency had tried in vain to ban product placement. "The majorities in Europe differed," German State Minister Bernd Neumann said. "Nonetheless, we managed to reach a compromise that will protect consumers by virtue of clear identification requirements and will safeguard editorial independence."
TV audiences must be clearly informed on any product placement, at the beginning and the end of a TV broadcast. No product placement may take place in news, current affairs and children programmes. Member states may introduce stricter rules, but for broadcasters from abroad, a country-of-origin principle applies.
The agreement, which was already endorsed by the Culture, Education and Youth Council on 24 May 2007, still needs to be approved by the plenary of the European Parliament, where it is set to be voted on during the second week of July.