It is looking at the possibility of scrapping the rules which limit the amount of commercials on these channels.
Submissions from ITV and Channel 4 both argue for changes. Some from purely commercial channels say the current rules should be kept in place. Ofcom still has not announced its intended course of action.
The submissions from ITV and Channel 4 make for interesting reading. They spell out why the broadcasters might want more flexibility.
Interestingly, ITV says it would not want to show more adverts across the day overall, at least initially.
Instead its aim would be:
- A full 12 minutes of ads in each hour between 6pm and 11pm.
- Greater flexibility in the scheduling of breaks by allowing internal breaks of more than 3 minutes 30 seconds.
ITV would redistribute some advertising airtime from the early afternoon and late evenings to balance out the increase in peak time advertising.
The broadcaster proposes introducing the changes for a trial period. This could assess what the impact on viewers and the wider market might be.
Some commercial broadcasters have claimed that allowing more ads on the public service broadcasters might lead to channels closing or cuts in the amount of money invested in new programmes.
Channel 4’s response highlights what it sees as another benefit of relaxing the rules.
Channel 4 often runs 12 minutes of ads around its most popular programmes.
The rules presently mean that during an hour-long slot, it might run three breaks of 3 minutes 30 seconds with a further 1:30 of ads during the junction before the next programme.
If longer internal breaks were allowed, it could extend the breaks during the programme to 4 minutes’ duration and have no ads in the junction.
From a practical point of view, this has attractions. The ads will reach more eyeballs but a tighter junction might mean that more viewers will stay tuned for the next programme.
Applied to ITV 1, this could make it easier to squeeze 12 minutes of ads into each peak hour without cutting programme durations.
As we have explained in previous pieces, the biggest changes on ITV 1 would be to the 6pm and 10pm hours.
This could allow the channel to properly monetise the audiences for its news programmes.
In practice, the extra airtime would come from running fewer ads between 1pm and 4pm and none after 11pm.
It might be assumed that this time would be made up by slightly extending the ITV Lunchtime News or simply running more promotions during early afternoon breaks.
Ofcom will announce its next steps in due course.
PICTURED: ITV 1/Channel 4/Channel 5/STV logos. COPYRIGHT: ITV plc/Channel 4 Television Corporation/Channel 5 Broadcasting Ltd/STV Group.