TV watchers in the UK will start seeing something new beginning next Monday -- product placement.
Here in the U.S., product placement became the new wild west of TV advertising, especially as reality shows have become so popular. Some product placement is obvious, like the Coca-Cola cups on the desk in front of the American Idol judges. Some is more subtle -- or maybe the word should be "sneaky." Segments on shows like "Apprentice" and "The Biggest Loser" fit in smoothly with the show's content, but they are ads cleverly disguised as part of the show. That may be good for the advertisers, but it's not fair and, in fact, dishonest with the viewers.
I've written about this before. It's a pet peeve of mine.
So I like what the British TV regulators are doing. Product placement is being allowed, which means added revenues for the broadcasters. But the new rules require a symbol on the screen that indicates that what you're watching is, in fact, a paid message.
Commerce is good. But so is honesty. The FCC should take a page from our friends across the Atlantic.