Ofcom is consulting about whether to remove some or all of the stricter advertising rules that apply to commercially-funded public service broadcasters. 

Commercially-funded public service broadcasting (PSB) channels in the UK are subject to stricter rules on the quantity and scheduling of television advertising than other commercial channels. These rules were introduced over 30 years ago.

Following a call for evidence last year, Ofcom has provisionally concluded that stricter advertising restrictions on PSB channels are no longer justified or proportionate.  Therefore, it is now consulting on two options:

  • make the rules between PSB and non-PSB channels the same; or
  • make them the same, except for the difference in the number of internal breaks permitted in programmes. 

Under both options, all PSB and non-PSB channels would be subject to the same limit of showing no more than an average of 12 minutes of television advertising and teleshopping spots per hour – of which no more than nine minutes may be television advertising. In each case, existing restrictions on the frequency of advertising in films, news and children’s programmes would be kept in place.

Under the second option, the PSB channels would remain subject to stricter rules on the number of internal breaks permitted in programmes. This would mean, for example, that a half-hour programme on a PSB channel would still only be allowed one advertising break, while a half-hour programme on a non-PSB channel would continue to be allowed two breaks. Ofcom says that this is their preferred option.

Ofcom is says that it is also open to making no changes at all. However, it says that allowing the PSB channels somewhat more flexibility in scheduling advertising may help strengthen their commercial position as they continue to manage their transition to digital-led organisations, and provide them with more opportunities to monetise their content.

The consultation ends on 31 May 2023.