TV schedules are now back to normal following the period of mourning which followed the death of HM The Queen. But there will be a legacy which is likely to be felt for several days.
The main commercial channels suspended all advertising in the immediate aftermath of The Queen’s death.
Through the period of mourning, there was no advertising around programmes concerning Her Majesty’s death or the funeral. Indeed advertising is specifically forbidden during formal Royal events.
However this means that more advertising than normal is now being shown.
The Code on the Scheduling of Television Advertisements allows for the transfer of lost advertising time in certain circumstances. This is just such a situation.
The broadcasters will have approached Ofcom with a request to do this.
The temporary increase in advertising is particularly noticeable on ITV.
For instance there is now a full 12 minutes of advertising in the 3pm hour and an extra 4 minute break just before the ITV Evening News at 6.30pm.
The break before 9pm has also been reconfigured – generally 90 seconds of advertising Is running before 9pm and 90 seconds afterwards. Before, the break normally only lasted 90 seconds in total.
This is being done, it seems, to allow an extra break of around 4 minutes before News at Ten which has temporarily been billed at 10.05pm.
The main reason for moving things round so much is to ensure that no clock hour contains more than 12 minutes of adverts.
While this is only temporary, it comes as Ofcom considers whether to allow ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 to run as many adverts as other channels.
If there if no adverse public reaction, it will suggest that the public might accept a permanent increase.
The decision is not a given – there is a risk that an increase in advertising time could drive down prices so be of no benefit to broadcasters or viewers. That will need proper examination.
It doesn’t go without saying that a permanent increase would be handled in the same way on air. Programme durations may need to be slightly reduced to help keep the schedule running to time.
Ofcom’s current consultation runs for another fortnight.
It will set out later what action, if any, it proposes.
PICTURED: ITV ident. COPYRIGHT: ITV plc.