Ofcom orders removal of TV airtime sales rules

Ofcom has decided to press ahead with removing the television airtime sales rules following consultation with the industry.


Ofcom will remove the two rules governing airtime sales. These are the “withholding” rule that means that all airtime available on terrestrial commercial broadcasters ITV1, C4 and Five must be sold and the “conditional selling rule”, which prohibited them from bundling airtime sales packages across several channels in dealing with advertisers and media buyers.

The former sometimes resulted in the broadcasters having to discount their prices to sell all the allotted airtime.

Ofcom says that there are now few incentives to withhold airtime but found mixed responses to its consultation .

Objections to the changes included a worry that broadcasters would engage in the behaviour currently prohibited by the rules. Ofcom suggests that any anti-competitive effects from conditional selling, should they arise, will be best dealt with on a case-by-case basis.

Also some stakeholders suggested the review be postponed that Ofcom undertake either a competition-based market study or a broader review examining the rules together with other rules on the amount and distribution of ad minutage.

However, Ofcom says that no new evidence has been presented to change its conclusions that it is appropriate to remove the rules and they will be removed on 1 September ahead of the next deal season for TV advertising airtime.
The regulator will continue to monitor the TV advertising sector and any effects of the removal.

In a separate development, the House of Lords has just announced that it is to hold a review of TV advertising regulations in regard to issues such as scheduling, product placement and CRR.

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