Ofcom’s proposals to remove some of the limits on advertising on ITV 1, Channel 4 and Channel 5 seem to strike a sensible compromise.
Their preferred way forward removes additional restrictions on the overall volume of adverts and the maximum length of breaks.
But the tighter rules on the number of breaks within programmes would stay.
So what might this mean in practice?
It is worth focusing on ITV 1 simply because its audience is so much bigger than the other two channels.
Ofcom has noted, as we have discussed before, that the main impact will be on the 6pm and 10pm News hours.
They would be able to include a full 12 minutes of ads.
During the daytime, the 7am, 8am, 10am, 1pm and 2pm hours could see a slight rise in advertising. Typically they have 10 minutes 30 seconds worth just now.
But this could all be achieved by making the existing breaks longer – not by additional interruptions.
For instance the 10am and 1pm hours have three breaks of 3 minutes 30 seconds. They could potentially be extended to 4 minutes.
The option of running longer internal breaks could have pros and cons for viewers.
Longer internal breaks could mean breaks between programmes could be eliminated.
Ofcom is also prepared to look at whether to make no changes at all or allow a relaxation of the rule on the number of internal breaks.
That could lead to two breaks during 30-minute programmes – clearly something viewers would notice and something which could have an adverse impact on the programme itself.
The consultation runs until the end of May.
No date has been announced for the date any changes may take effect. But clearly this would need to be agreed so the new rules affected all three channels simultaneously.
PICTURED: ITV 1 break bumper. COPYRIGHT: ITV plc.
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