Ofcom considers deregulation of TV advertising rules

Ofcom is to announce a consultation seeking to further deregulate television advertising sales rules on commercial broadcasters.

Watching TV

The watchdog’s chief executive Ed Richards will announce plans to open the consultation later today (18 January) at a public meeting to discuss Ofcom’s draft Annual Plan for 2010/11.

He says: “Ofcom is committed to reducing its regulatory burdens; underpinning all our work is a desire to remove unnecessary regulations. In the last few years the TV sector has moved on with substantial increases in the take-up of digital services and in the number of available channels, and consolidation in the advertising buying sector.

“If regulations have no public interest then they should be removed; that is what we will be considering here.”

Ofcom’s draft Annual Plan proposes reviewing the Airtime Sales Rules, which were retained following the last review in 2003 when Carlton and Granada merged to create ITV plc.

Ofcom will review whether commercial broadcasters should continue to face certain restrictions in the way they sell advertising, including the requirement on public service broadcasters (PSBs) that they sell all their advertising minutes.

Alongside this Ofcom will consider whether advertising minutage and break pattern rules for PSBs and other channels should be harmonised.

Ofcom plans to publish the consultation over the next few months.

If changes are made, Ofcom hopes that these can be published in the autumn of 2010, when broadcasters and advertising buyers negotiate terms for the next 12 months, and brought into effect from 1 January 2011.

Last year, Ofcom overhauled its broadcasting code to provide stronger audience protection when the public use premium rate telephone services to call adult, psychic and quiz chat shows.

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