Viewers face huge increases in TV ads under new OFCOM proposals 

‘An extra 35 days of non-stop advertising’: Viewers face huge increases in TV ads under new OFCOM proposals

  • 69 per cent of viewers would watch fewer programmes if ads increase
  • More than half of viewers less tolerant of ads since ad-free streaming services 
  • 44 per cent would watch more content on ad-free platforms if ads increased

TV viewers could be hit with an extra 850 hours’ worth of adverts across ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 each year as a result of a watchdog’s proposals, it has been claimed.

An industry body said if these broadcasters are allowed to increase their average TV advertising from seven minutes an hour to nine minutes, it may result in the equivalent of an extra 35 days’ worth of non-stop advertising.

Research showed that the audience is opposed to more adverts on these commercial public service channels, said the Association for Commercial Broadcasters and On-Demand Services (COBA).

A survey carried out by COBA, which represents digital, cable and satellite broadcasters and on-demand services, found 69 per cent of viewers would watch fewer programmes on these broadcasters if they showed more adverts.

An industry body said if these broadcasters are allowed to increase their average TV advertising from seven minutes an hour to nine minutes, it may result in the equivalent of an extra 35 days’ worth of non-stop advertising

An industry body said if these broadcasters are allowed to increase their average TV advertising from seven minutes an hour to nine minutes, it may result in the equivalent of an extra 35 days’ worth of non-stop advertising

It also found 44 per cent said they would watch more content on ad-free streaming services such as Netflix if this happened.

Earlier this year the broadcasting watchdog Ofcom called for evidence about the arguments for removing stricter advertising rules that apply to commercial public service broadcasters.

These broadcasters – ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 – are allowed an average of seven minutes of advertising per hour for ‘every hour of transmission time across the broadcasting day’ when it comes to advertising and teleshopping.

Non-public service channels are allowed no more than an average of nine minutes of television advertising per hour across the day, or 12 minutes if teleshopping is included.

The COBA figures showing the more than 850-hour increase are based on a rise from seven to nine minutes per hour for the public service channels.

COBA’s survey also said more than half of viewers have become less tolerant of adverts since the advent of ad-free streaming services. Nearly a third said they would rather watch TV without commercials. One third expressed concerns about the nature of television commercials including ‘volume and content’.

COBA chairman Vanessa Brookman said: ‘As well as having a damaging impact on commercial revenues for the rest of the TV sector, which would impact on smaller commercial channels, increasing the volume of adverts on commercial Public Service Broadcasters would affect the viewer experience of Public Service Broadcasting. This could have greatest impact on those who may not have the choice of viewing in different ways.’

An Ofcom spokesman: ‘To be clear, Ofcom has not proposed any changes to TV advertising rules. If there is a case that British public-service broadcasters need more freedom in this area, we would base any proposals on the evidence, including the thoughts and needs of viewers.’

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