Finnish Parliament is currently processing Government Bill 87/2009, to implement Directive 2007/65/EC regarding audiovisual media services (AV directive) in Finland. The changes to legislation were originally intended to enter into force in the beginning of 2010, however, the processing of the bill has been prolonged in Parliament and it is now expected to enter into fore in April or May 2010.

A notable change to the present situation is that the implementation of the AV directive enables product placement (an inclusion of or reference to a product, a service or the trade mark thereof so that it is featured within a programme, in return for payment or for similar) in cinematographic works, films and series made for television, sports programmes and light entertainment programmes. Under current legislation product placement is considered to be hidden advertising and thus prohibited.

The proposed legislation includes many limitations and conditions for product placement. Product placement in children’s programmes or of tobacco products or specific pharmaceutical products is always prohibited. In addition, product placement may not a) affect the content and scheduling of programmes, b) encourage the purchase of products or services, c) make promotional or other special reference to the products or d) give undue prominence to the product in question.

Further, viewers must be clearly informed that the programme contains product placement unless the programme in question has neither been produced nor commissioned by the media service provider itself or a company affiliated to the media service provider or if information about product placement is not available for the service provider without unreasonable effort.

It should be noted that product placement infringing the conditions set in the legislation is still considered hidden advertising and is, thus, prohibited.