Do you feel that there is too much (or too little) advertising on TV? Too many (or too few) ad breaks? Here is your chance to tell Ofcom what you think.
The quantity and scheduling of advertising on TV in the UK has always been subject to regulation, with rules first being put in place for the launch of commercial television broadcasting in the 1950s. The restrictions were put in place with the aims of ensuring that viewers are not exposed to excessive amounts of advertising and that the quality of the viewing experience is maintained (depending on your point of view, you may feel that these aims have not been met).
The Code on the Scheduling of Television Advertising sets out how much advertising a television broadcaster can transmit and where it can be scheduled. It prohibits any channel from showing more than 12 minutes of television advertising in any clock hour, and places limits on the average amount of advertising television broadcasters can transmit, the frequency with which programmes can be interrupted by advertising, and the amount of time that broadcasters can devote to teleshopping spots.
For over 30 years, the rules that apply to public service broadcasters (PSB) channels (Channel 3 services (ITV and STV), Channel 4, Channel 5 and S4C) have been stricter than the rules that apply to non-PSB channels. For example, the PSB channels cannot show more than a maximum of eight minutes advertising in a clock hour, depending on the time of day and cannot average more than seven minutes per hour in a broadcasting day.
Ofcom has pointed out that there have been significant changes in how television is distributed and watched since the rules were first introduced, including the expansion of non-PSB channels and the introduction of on-demand television and online streaming services. It also highlights that advertising regulation is an important area affecting the financial sustainability of the PSBs with TV advertising revenue falling.
Against this backdrop, Ofcom is reviewing the rules with the aim of ensuring that Ofcom does not maintain regulatory burdens on PSB channels that may have become unnecessary.
It wishes to hear the arguments both for and against removing the stricter rules that apply to PSB channels. In addition, it is seeking evidence and information on how removing these stricter rules may affect audiences, broadcasters, advertisers and the process of competition.
The call for evidence ends on 7 October 2022. Following this, Ofcom will review responses and outline its next steps, which may include a formal consultation on changing the rules.
We need to strike the right balance between protecting viewers’ interests and sustaining our traditional broadcasters, which includes helping them compete with global streaming platforms