Consumer advocates from Germany are criticising the Commission’s Issues Paper on the TV without Frontiers (TVWF) Directive, which they say would end a ban on secretive product placement in TV productions.
Germany’s ARD public TV station is currently facing a scandal involving payments for the prominent placement of branded products in TV productions, an illegal practice lawyers refer to as surreptitious advertising.
In an issues paper for the Liverpool 22 September 2005 audiovisual conference, the Commission says that “for the new directive, the possibility of authorising product placement is an option which would cover the development of the advertising market as it presently exists, whereas product placement today in fact operates without any regulated environment”.
A spokesperson for vzbv, Germany’s national association of consumer protection centres, said that the move would mean “a breach in the dyke around the freedom of information and of the press”. Vzbv director Edda Müller said: “The viewer must also in the future have a chance of relying on TV reporting on issues because they are socially or politically relevant, and not because they were paid for.”
The 1989 TVWF Directive will be reviewed for the second time under the UK presidency and is subject to a public consultation by the Commission.