Ofcom to scrap outdated TV ad rules

Ofcom is to remove “outdated and unnecessary” rules that require a 20-minute interval between advertising breaks on TV. The media regulator has published a shorter advertising code to simplify the rules, which will come into force on September 1.

The code makes no changes to the amount of television advertising or the number of ad breaks in most programmes. Instead, it will remove rules that require a 20-minute interval between ad breaks so the first and last breaks are not forced to be close to the beginning and end of programmes.

The code will allow broadcasters to transmit one ad break for every 30 minutes of a film rather than every 45 minutes. It will also end restrictions on ad breaks in documentaries, current affairs and programmes about religion.

The changes are being implemented following a consultation on the European Union’s new Audio Visual Media Services directive. The next stage of the review will deal with possible changes to the rules on the amount of advertising allowed by broadcasters.

It has faced opposition from viewers, broadcasters, advertising agencies and advertisers at the suggestion of more advertising. Ofcom says it “recognises this” and will “ensure a full and open” consultation, expected in autumn, to give them time to respond.

Last month, ITV commercial chief Rupert Howell called for more flexibility around advertising airtime and claimed restrictions are limiting the revenue potential of primetime weekend shows.

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