Thursday, 12 November 2009

We don't want product placement - unless its for condoms

I have been encouraged recently to sign up to a campaign against the government's proposals to allow product placement in television programmes. The context has been that of food products, the concern being that unhealthy food products intended for children might well be the object of product placement. Signatories to this campaign so far include at least two teacher trade unions, including the one to which I belong. The "take action" page, at which you can sign up to show your opposition to product placement is here.

I quote from the letter which you can sign and send from this action page, and which the teacher unions have effectively signed:
I am particularly concerned that product placement breaches the principle that advertising should be clearly recognised as such, and distinguishable from editorial content. It is important that people know when they are being advertised to, and parents are able to recognise advertising and protect their children from it. With product placement, marketing goes on behind parents' backs.
I fear that teachers are in danger of applying a glaring double standard here. Sex education has increasingly, and, with recent developments will continue doing so, promoted condom use and distribution, along with  readiness of access to "sexual health services" (see below). The access to services is de facto confidential and therefore done without parental knowledge. If this is not product placement I don't know what is. It is clearly advertising of particular services, not distinguished from educational/editorial content, and done behind parents' backs. [As the BBC (but not schools) would say, "other services are available" - but they are not mentioned or included in lists of agencies.]

"Sexual health services" is an all inclusive euphemism. The agencies involved include referral for abortion and contraceptive services in their portfolio [if any agencies wish to deny this, comments welcome and they will be posted]. These services are not distinguished from such services as screening for and treatment of sexually transmitted infections, though they are of course very different in nature.

It is increasingly difficult in a state school not to feel that you are complicit in a "product placement" of contraceptive and abortion services.

No comments: