Industry dismisses ITV ad minutes plea

An ITV plea for “more flexibility” in advertising minute rules has been challenged by rivals and media agencies who do not believe it will help the industry.

In a speech at the Royal Television Society last week, Rupert Howell, ITV managing director of commercial and brand, called for more flexibility around advertising airtime, claiming restrictions limit the revenue potential of primetime weekend shows.

But Viacom Brand Solutions managing director Nick Bampton says that allowing more ads at weekend peaktime will further commoditise air time but not bring in more money.

Howell’s comments come part way through a review of the rules governing advertising airtime. He says that it does not want more minutes but the ability to work out the averages over a week. Previously, the broadcaster argued for more ad minutes, but later changed its mind.

At present, ITV1 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 during the day and eight minutes on average at peak time between 6pm to 11pm. By taking averages over a week, ITV would be able to stack its primetime minutes over the higher rating weekend shows.

One agency head says the broadcaster is “living in dreamland” if it expects minutes to be averaged across the week, while Bampton adds: “It needs to be considered who would get any benefit from such flexibility.”

He says such a move could be “damaging” for the industry in the long-term, particularly if audiences were exposed to a greater amount of longer ad breaks over the weekend peak time.

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