The relaxing of product placement rules for television could undermine controls on alcohol marketing in the UK, according to the Portman Group.

The UK Government has launched a consultation on allowing product placement in certain types of TV programmes.

It is seeking 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.

The Portman Group, the drinks industry's self regulatory body, said today (7 January) it is "concerned" to ensure that product placement on television is not allowed to "undermine the existing strict controls" on alcohol marketing.

David Poley, Portman chief executive, believes it could be far more difficult to control the message in product placement than with advertising.

"The danger is that less scrupulous companies would exploit this. We could see all kinds of unwise and unhealthy drinking portrayals. We do not want to see product placement unless it can be regulated to the same high standards as all other alcohol marketing."

The UK consultation runs until the end of January, but an additional consultation on changes to Ofcom rules is likely. Ofcom is the independent regulator for the communications sector.