The Department for Culture, Media and Sport opened up a consultation yesterday on the implementation of the Audiovisual Media Service Directive. The consultation will allow advertisers and broadcasters to lobby for a relaxation of the rules banning product placement in the UK.

Advertising and Marketing Law expert Dan Smith says, "This won't be easy… Convincing arguments will be needed following the Government's strongly worded rejection of the idea of paid-for product placement. Editorial integrity is currently being championed over the interests of advertisers and broadcasters."

The consultation is worded to favour a continuation of the prohibition on paid-for product placement. However, it may signal better news for providers of 'TV-like' content on the Internet.

Dan adds, "While regulation will be extended to providers of video-on-demand, it appears that the Government is inclined to adopt a narrow interpretation. That approach would reflect the regulators' traditional reluctance to get involved in regulating the internet. We wait to see then, whether shows such as (social networking site) Bebo's Kate Modern, whose business model is built on brands paying for exposure in storylines, ultimately evade any ban."

With the consultation process closing on 31 October 2008, stakeholders must act now if they want their voices to be heard.