Ofcom is looking into whether to extend the amount of advertising that broadcasters can show in any one hour.
The regulator says it needs to find a way to protect traditional broadcasters as they compete against “American streaming platforms” – though an increase in the amount of time spent in commercial breaks is arguably just as likely to reduce audiences as it is increase revenues.
Ofcom has itself previously said the frequency of ads could be seen as disruptive to viewing.
“We’re scoping a range of options, but before we form any plans we’ll listen to different views and examine what TV viewers say,” the regulator said.
Public broadcasting channels – such as ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 – are currently restricted to an average of seven minutes per hour of advertising – while private channels can have nine. They’re also permitted an additional 3 for teleshopping.
Ofcom said that while the expanded choice of entertainment was “generally positive” for audiences it “put pressure on broadcasters, squeezing revenues, and made it harder for them to maintain their current offer”.
The review on advertising emerged in an Ofcom report to Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries on the PSB licences of ITV and Channel 5.
The regulator intends to consult before a final decision is made in the autumn.