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ProSieben cops to ad rap

Company ending ties to product-placement brokers

Haim Saban’s ProSiebenSat 1 TV group has admitted to product placement, illegal in Germany, but has promised to halt the practice after an internal probe.

It is ending business ties to third-party product-placement brokers that supplied illicit ads and is taking measures to prevent it happening in the future.

“Product placement can no longer remain a gray zone,” topper Guillaume de Posch said Monday. “We are developing new regulations for productions for the entire group, for business partners as well as personnel.”

De Posch stressed that the company would update and enforce guidelines on the separation of editorial and advertising content.

The inhouse report follows recent allegations of product placement in Sat 1 programs, and comes in the wake of a similar scandal at pubcaster ARD and its production company Bavaria Film this summer. Bavaria Film chief Thilo Kleine and several other officials were sacked as a result of a probe triggered by local press reports on illicit ads going back years.

In another incident, ARD fired two of its top sports commentators after they were arrested on charges of corruption for their alleged involvement in product placement and for illegally taking money for coverage of sporting events.

Unlike in the U.S., German law prohibits all such advertising on TV programs.

Media watchdogs say Germany has some of the toughest advertising regs in the European Union, but that might soon change. Lawmakers are looking at adapting an approach more like in the U.S., allowing broadcasters to use product placement as long as it’s properly disclosed.

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