ITV chief says ad restrictions limit revenue

ITV commercial chief Rupert Howell has called for more flexibility around advertising airtime, claiming restrictions are limiting the revenue potential of primetime weekend shows. Media regulator Ofcom is part way through a review of the rules governing advertising airtime.

ITV commercial chief Rupert Howell (pictured) has called for more flexibility around advertising airtime, claiming restrictions are limiting the revenue potential of primetime weekend shows. Media regulator Ofcom is part way through a review of the rules governing advertising airtime.

Howell, ITV managing director for brand and commercial, made the claims during a speech on The New Economics of Television at a Royal Television Society dinner last night.

He said that, because ITV1 often has a string of high-rating shows across its weekend schedule, the broadcster was effectively running out of ad airtime under current restrictions on peak-time.

He said: “We are not asking for more minutes but for more flexibility,” adding that it was “one of many reasons” that chat show Parkinson ended. In shows such as Lewis, it often ran no ads because of the popularity of programmes such as Dancing On Ice, which goes out earlier in the evening.

Ofcom published its proposals on simplifying the TV ad rules in March. It is seeking views on a number of plans including scrapping the 20 minute interval between ad breaks or even increasing the number of minutes allowed, a proposal TV sales houses have been reluctant to endorse claiming more minutes would not necessarily increase revenues.

Under current rules, ITV can run up to 12 minutes of advertising an hour in peak time, as long as it maintains an average of seven minutes an hour across the day and eight minutes an hour in peak time.

Howell also suggested a weekly minute count so the broadcaster could run more minutes during the weekend and less on quieter week nights.

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