The Government has passed a bill that could class video game PR launches and goodies as ‘bribes’.
Section 7 will create a new offence next spring that charges firms failing to prevent bribery with an unlimited fine or up to ten years imprisonment. However, the industry’s leading press officers say business will continue as normal, regardless of the new law.
One public relations boss for a leading games publisher told MCV: “When you’re working on a movie or game you need to fly media and clients to countries to see them in action. As long as you’re doing business legitimately then I can’t see this being an issue.
“I’ve never been excessive enough personally so I’ll just continue to pop along to see the media with a smiley face and interesting information on our new game. Maybe I’ll buy them a pint after. Is that okay or does it count as bribery?”
Caroline Miller, director of PR agency Indigo Pearl added: “Holding a press event to showcase a forthcoming title is a completely legitimate business expense.
“Providing food and drink at a nice central location seems like a reasonable thing to do – are we going to have the canapé police coming round to ensure we’re not being too lavish?”
The majority of press officers contacted by MCV admitted they were unfamiliar with the new law and made requests not to be quoted.
Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice Kenneth Clarke QC says publishers can protect themselves by putting in place anti-bribery measures.
In a statement sent to MCV he said: “It is a defence for an organisation to prove it had adequate procedures in place to prevent bribery being committed on its behalf.
“Section 9 establishes a duty on the Secretary of State to publish guidance about procedures which commercial organisations can put in place to prevent bribery.”
The Government will publish leaflets offering businesses advice on the law before it comes into effect in April 2011.