The consultation on the UK implementation of the Audio Visual Media Services Directive has just begun. This aims to outlaw the product placement routines that are becoming integral to be central to funding of new content, “except when these are permitted”: the opposite of the tradtional anglo-saxon attitude to legislation.
At a time of mass content piracy and mounting recession, when those seeking to fund the creation of innovative new content are increasingly turning to product placement, with or without click through to advertising detail (depending on the transmission medium), this is a step (or more correctly a stride in seven league boots) in exactly the wrong direction.
The only organisation to understand the enormity of the decision is probably Google, which is in the processing of assembling the most powerful UK and European lobbying organisation the ICT world has even seen (putting even Microsoft and IBM at their former peaks in the shade). Obviously they are assembling that machine to fight other battles as well but they have understood the importance of lobbying at the highest political levels – not just responding to departmerntal quesitionnaires
Most ICT players do not even understand what is happening let alone why it is fundamental to their business models and future marketing, advertising and even selling and ordering channels.
Some may attend the BERR consultations on the Telecoms Review but almost none have attended those of DCMS on the AVMS review where the traditional broadcasters and their allies pretend the proposals are as good as can be expected – i.e. will help protect their current current business models from the threat of innovation and change.
We need the rest of the ICT industry (including users supporting consumer sales operations) to work alongside content creators to ensure that the way forward meets their needs, not just those of the off-shore pay-per-click advertisers and domestic subscription broadcasters.
We need to replace a regime that will encourage product placement in programmes and films imported from outside the EU, thus supporting imported consumer goods and brands, by one that will help turn our current indiginous but largely covert, product placement “industry” into the open and transparent support mechanism for a vibrant multi-billion pound content creation industry that promotes UK and EU products and services (and cultural values) to the rest of the world. That way forward should also be designed to help ensure that players like Google make more money by moving operations on-shore into the UK and EU than by serving us from outside the EU regulatory swamp.