The UK regulator Ofcom has decided against relaxing stricter TV advertising rules that apply to the commercially-funded channels.
All UK broadcasters are subject to restrictions on the quantity and scheduling of advertising on their channels. But under rules introduced over 30 years ago, the public service broadcasting (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.
Last year, Ofcom launched a call for evidence and the regulator has provisionally concluded that stricter advertising restrictions on PSB channels are no longer justified or proportionate.
Ofcom’s originally preferred option was to bring PSB advertising rules into line with those for non-PSB channels, while retaining safeguards that limit the number of internal breaks allowed in programmes.
In a statement the regulator said while there may be merit in harmonising TV advertising rules by relaxing the additional restrictions on PSBs, the status quo should be maintained.
It follows a consultation into the issue. “In reaching this decision, we recognised that the potential benefits to audiences, public service broadcasters and the wider market are uncertain,” the regulator said in a statement.
There was also concern that increasing advertising in peak advertising that contain news might reduce the number of news minutes broadcast.
Ofcom will now 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.