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Ofcom may relax advertising restrictions

Ofcom may relax advertising restrictions

Broadcasting regulator Ofcom has “signaled” that ITV and other commercial broadcasters should be freed of some of their burdensome advertising restrictions, according to reports.

Chief executive of Ofcom Ed Richards told the FT Digital Media and Broadcasting conference that the regulator was considering changing the emphasis in regulation from a presumption that airtime should be regulated to a presumption that it should not.

The suggestion follows warnings from ITV chairman Archie Norman that failing to relax advertising regulations risked allowing aggregators of video, such as Google, to become “the second or third major broadcaster in Britain”.

Commercial broadcasters are subject to European Union rules which stipulate the total amount of advertising that can be broadcast in a 24-hour period, and per hour in peak time.

Analysts estimate that simply allowing ITV to run 12 minutes per hour of advertising instead of eight around hit shows such as Britain’s Got Talent could make tens of millions of pounds of difference to profits.

Yesterday, ITV reported it had seen a return to the black, reporting a pre-tax profit of £25m for 2009.
TV advertising revenue was down 9% to £1,291m as the results were announced on the back of what Interim Chief Executive Officer, ITV plc, John Cresswell, described as “the worst television advertising downturn on record.”

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