The National Communications Commission (NCC) said yesterday it is formulating a draft regulation that would conditionally allow broadcasting media to place branded products in the context of television programs, adding that it has yet to decide if TV shows would be allowed to have title sponsors.
Television personality Hu Gua (胡瓜) said recently that he predicted the nation’s entertainment industry could only remain viable for three more years because funding for TV programs has been gradually declining. He said his sentiments were echoed by television producer Chan Jen-hsiung (詹仁雄) and that entertainment programs should be allowed to have title sponsors to provide the necessary funding to produce quality programs.
Jason Ho (何吉森), director of the commission’s communication content department, said the idea of title sponsorship was being considered because it could open up the funding needed to enrich the quality of television programs.
Ho said that title sponsorship is different from the current form of program sponsorship — which informs the audiences who sponsors are either before or after the show — because it makes the product brand part of the program tile.
“So if an energy drink is the title sponsor of Variety Big Brother [a local entertainment show], the name of the drink would become part of the show’s title,” Ho said, providing a hypothetical example.
However, Ho said title sponsorship could create problems, such as blurring the line between programming and advertisements. Whether title sponsorship would be allowed requires further discussion by the NCC, he said.
Ho said the EU’s audiovisual media service directive has conditionally permitted embedded marketing in its programs, adding that EU television stations must follow a specific set of regulations pertaining to product placement.
“It [the directive] says the programs must disclose information about their sponsors and the shows must also be distinguishable from advertisements. Moreover, the shows cannot highlight specific characteristics of the products or encourage people to purchase them. Nor can the sponsors interfere with the content of the programs,” Ho said.
Ho said the commission has been studying the possibility of conditionally allowing branded products to appear in television shows. It has proposed several options and will disclose them to the public within two months, he added
In related news, the commission has approved its White Paper on Protecting Communications Rights of Children and the Youth, drafted by NCC Commissioner Weng Hsiao-ling (翁曉玲).
Ho said the white paper has identified several important policy goals, including designing a television rating system specifically aimed at children and youth programs, as well as designating a specific percentage of programming for children and young adults, which would require amendments to media laws.
Commission spokesperson Chen Jeng-chang (陳正倉) said the NCC could only ask the television channels to raise the percentage of children’s and youth programs when they apply for license renewals, adding that the commission expected most of channels to voluntarily make such a commitment.
The commission could then use those promises as standards to evaluate their performances and to reviews their license renewal applications next time, he said.