Kate Bulkley, Media Analyst.

Vaizey slams Burnham on product placement views

By Kate Bulkley

Broadcast News

For Broadcast July 03, 2008

Ed Vaizey

Showcomotion: Shadow media secretary Ed Vaizey has slammed Andy Burnham's "barmy" views on the dangers of product placement on TV.

In a speech opening the fifth annual Showcommotion children's media conference in Sheffield, Vaizey said that the head of the DCMS was asking the commercial TV business to work with "one arm tied behind its back".

Vaizey said Burnham's recent public airing of his pre-emptive views against product placement before the consultation has even been completed "sort of feels like noblesse oblige, a kind of 'we know better'".

"We [in the UK] probably have the most media-savvy public in Europe. I thought his comments were barmy."

On the subject of protecting the future of children's TV, Vaizey said he could make no commitment on what he would do if the Tories were to win the next election, nor even confirm whether it would be in the party's election manifesto, because "it's hard to do in this economic climate".

But he said the kids industry should be "nurtured and supported".

In his view, a production tax credit, much like that of the film industry, could give "an immediate boost" to British children's TV producers.

He suggested that the industry work with the independent music and video games industries to lobby together for a joint "creative industries" tax credit.

"There is a huge opportunity to get together in a room and propose a creative industries tax credit that is carefully costed," he said.

He admitted however that such a credit would not be introduced before the election, likely in 2010, advising the audience that introducing any form of credit sooner lies with government, especially Burnham.

Vaizey said the industry could take a leaf out of the film industry's book while it continues to put pressure on the government.

"Politicians like film stars. Keep putting politicians in front of household names as often as you can."

On a panel debate this morning, RDF director of children's and family programming Nigel Pickard said that while it was easy to advocate tax breaks, the issue raised practical concerns.

"The real question is if there are enough broadcast platforms that are commissioning," he said. "If there aren't enough platforms, it doesn't matter how many tax breaks you have. They're great for animation and they should have been done [for children's TV] 10 years ago, but it doesn't solve the whole problem."

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