Ofcom is expected to confirm this month whether it will make changes to the advertising rules on the three main commercial channels.
Over the past year or so, it has been consulting over whether to allow more daily ads on Channel 3, Channel 4 and Channel 5.
Earlier in the summer it announced its preferred course of action.
It was minded to allow the three channels to run as much advertising as the other commercial channels but planned to keep the rules which place tighter limits on the number of internal breaks they can show.
In particular, one break would still be the maximum allowed in a programme scheduled for a 30 minute slot.
Some of the responses to this are now available on Ofcom’s website.
The views of ITV and Channel 4 are particularly interesting, given that the aim of the changes is to help public service broadcasters.
Both favour increasing the total number of minutes of advertising which they can run. In practice this would mean 12 minutes of ads all through the daytime and evening.
Both also agree the limits on the length of internal breaks of 3 minutes and 30 seconds worth of ads should go
But then some disagreement emerges.
ITV argued the rules should be eased to give the three channels the option to run two breaks within a half hour programme. It stresses it does not plan to do this even if the rules change so this seems to be about the principle.
Channel 4 though thinks the right to show extra internal breaks risks the viewing experience so wants the current limits on internal breaks kept.
If Ofcom changes the rules, ITV believes the move should take effect straight away.
Channel 4 wants to wait until January 2025.
There does not seem to be a publicly available response from Channel 5 while STV seems to agree with ITV’s arguments.
It will be interesting to see what Ofcom actually decides.
I wonder if a compromise is possible.
In particular, the rules on the length of internal breaks could be lifted immediately – this could mean longer breaks within programmes but no ads during junctions.
It’s hard to see any reason for delaying this change if Ofcom agrees to make it. It would simply give broadcasters more flexibility over their break patterns and they might not always use it.
On the other hand, an overall increase in the number of adverts is commercially significant. It has implications for ad agencies and media buyers as they plan campaigns and decide how much space to buy.
Hopefully all will become clear within the next four weeks.
PICTURED: Ofcom/ITV 1/STV/Channel 4/Channel 5 logos. COPYRIGHT: Ofcom/ITV plc/STV Group/Channel 4 Television Corporation/Channel 5 Broadcasting Ltd.