There was an article in the Sunday Times today regarding the UK version of "The Apprentice" and the free advertising that companies are receiving. Product placements are apparently against BBC guidelines whether they are paid for or not. The BBC guidelines - "Never include a product or service in sound or vision in return for cash, services of any consideration in kind. This is product placement. It is illegal."
This explains why when US shows such as "American Idol" are aired here the coca-cola logos on the judges glasses are blurred out. Product placements in America are standard, most films and television shows wouldn't be made without a number of product placements, not to mention poking fun at them. Who could forget the clips from "Wayne's World" where they fit as many slogans and product placements into 30 seconds as possible and "State and Main" where they need to plug an Internet company in an old west film.
Many people here complain about watching US programs as you can see how many breaks they build into shows for commercial breaks. There are not half as many commercial breaks here so you just get odd black screens for a millisecond or so where the commercial should have come.