The UK Government is seeking views on whether to charge a fee for product placement of alcoholic drinks in television programmes.

The Department of Culture Media and Sport today (10 November) launched its consultation into allowing product placement in certain types of TV programmes.

The consultation asks for views on whether a levy should be introduced to fund research into the effects of allowing the placement of alcohol, unhealthy foods and gambling products.

It also asked whether these product categories should be subject to an outright ban on product placement.

Current rules mean UK television broadcasters cannot include product placement in programmes which either they have made or have been made for them.

As part of the EU Audiovisual Media Services (AVMS) Directive member states must prohibit product placement but are allowed to grant exceptions for certain types of programmes.

The UK consultation runs until January, but the DCMS said an additional consultation on changes to Ofcom rules is "likely".

Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport Ben Bradshaw said: "There is no doubt that commercial broadcasters are suffering in this challenging economic climate, with the sharp decline in advertising revenue well documented. Programme makers have argued that our current stance on product placement will put them at a competitive disadvantage against international rivals, particularly from the US.

He added: "Most EU member states have now decided that they will allow product placement. I want to ensure that UK broadcasters do not suffer through being overly strictly regulated."

A spokesperson for the Portman Group, the drinks industry's self-regulatory body, said it will respond to the consultation in "due course".

"Our concern is to make sure that irresponsible product placement of alcohol is not allowed to undermine the strict controls that apply to other forms of marketing," the spokesperson told just-drinks.