Ofcom scraps plans to allow more adverts on the UK’s most popular commercial TV channels amid concerns it would lead to a reduction in news content
- Media regulator said it decided against removing stricter TV advertising rules
Ofcom has scrapped plans to allow the country’s most popular commercial TV channels to bombard viewers with more adverts, amid concerns it would lead to a reduction in news content.
Despite having previously indicated it was in favour of the changes, yesterday the media regulator said it had decided against removing stricter TV advertising rules that apply only to commercially funded public service broadcasters (PSB), such as ITV and Channel 4.
But the regulator warned it has only decided to retain the status quo ‘for the time being’ and that the potential benefits to audiences, broadcasters and the wider market are ‘uncertain’.
All UK broadcasters are subject to restrictions on the quantity and scheduling of advertising on their channels.
But the commercial PSB channels – ITV, STV, Channel 4, S4C and Channel 5 – are subject to tighter advertising restrictions than non-PSB commercial channels such as ITV2, 5USA and Pick.
Despite having previously indicated it was in favour of the changes, yesterday the media regulator said it had decided against removing stricter TV advertising rules that apply only to commercially funded public service broadcasters (PSBs), such as ITV and Channel 4 (stock image)
The original plan to relax the rules sparked claims that viewers could be barraged with up to 730 hours more TV adverts on these channels and that ITV and Channel 4 could lose nearly 28 minutes of news every weekday if the changes went ahead.
Ofcom said yesterday: ‘While we remain of the view that there may be merit in harmonising TV advertising rules by relaxing the additional restrictions on PSBs, we have decided to retain the status quo for the time being.
READ MORE HERE: Ofcom’s plans to relax television advert rules will ‘slash time left for news’ on ITV and Channel 4
‘In reaching this decision, we recognised that the potential benefits to audiences, public service broadcasters and the wider market are uncertain.
‘We also took into account that proceeding would mean that viewers would be likely to see increased advertising in ‘peak’ evening hours which contain news. This in turn could lead to a reduction in news minutes, which risks diminishing a particularly important genre of PSB content with high societal value.
‘Instead, we consider it appropriate to consider the impact of changes to TV advertising rules on viewers in the broader context of other changes to the PSB system in the coming years – including the implementation of the Media Bill.’
When it launched the consultation in April, Ofcom claimed that audiences migrating to streaming platforms meant consumers enjoyed a much wider range of ad-supported and subscription services over broadcast and online.
It had said that allowing the PSB channels more flexibility in its scheduling of adverts could help ‘strengthen their commercial position’.
PSB channels are currently likely to broadcast the maximum 12 minutes of advertising in and around mass appeal programmes in the 8pm-9pm slot during peak hours, Ofcom said.
These broadcasters often balance this with fewer or no advertisements in the 6pm, 7pm, 9pm and 10pm slots, which usually contain news programmes.
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