"We know firsthand how the story gets short-changed every time a reality show gets taken over by an advertiser," said the Writers Guild of America. "We're the ones forced to put in long hours just to figure out how we're going to embed that can of soda into the storyline eight more times before the final episode."
Product placement - whereby items are woven into programmes to satisfy advertisers - has become rife on US television as revenue from traditional commercials has dropped. It is most common in reality shows such as The Contender, which recorded 7,500 instances last year. It can also be seen in fiction programmes. In an episode of Desperate Housewives broadcast this year, one of the lead characters finds work as a model, buys a Buick LaCrosse and wastes no time showing it off to her friends at the mall. Two Buick commercials ran during the same episode.The Writers' Guild of America wants a statement at the beginning of each show, listing the incidences of product placement in the programme, in the hope that such statements counteract the economic pressure to shovel in more products into each script, with the story taking a back seat to commercial considerations.
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