Ofcom moots relaxation of on-air brand promotions

Ofcom’s review of its rules on radio advertising could provide commercial radio groups with additional revenue at a time when income is under pressure, according to industry observers.

The broadcasting watchdog is proposing to relax the rules on “content-related” promotions, a move which will allow radio stations to broadcast brief promotions for brands directly associated with the programme content. This could allow stations, for example, to sell a music download just after it has been played on air.

Other proposals include allowing venue-sponsored outside broadcasts and sponsored listener competition features.

The proposals, under consultation until 4 September, follow research carried out by the regulator which showed listeners are open to relevant promotions “so long as editorial independence and transparency are maintained”.

Independent radio specialist Grant Goddard says a review of the “anachronistic” codes “can only be a good thing”.

“It won’t be a massive financial boon for radio, but every little bit helps when viewed along with other potential changes to radio regulation concerning studio location, formats, DAB transmission costs and local content requirements, he says.

Radio Advertising Bureau research reveals that advertising revenues dipped 19.5% year on year in the first quarter of 2009.

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