HomeInsightsOfcom seeks views on levelling TV advertising rules across PSB and on-demand/streaming channels

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Ofcom is seeking evidence to help determine whether there is a need to reform rules that restrict the amount of advertising shown on public service broadcaster (PSB) TV channels.

All UK broadcasters are subject to restrictions on the quantity and scheduling of advertising on their channels. But under rules introduced over 30 years ago, ITV, STV, Channel 4, S4C and Channel 5 are subject to tighter advertising restrictions than non-PSB channels.

Ofcom wants to hear from broadcasters, advertising and sales organisations, audiences and consumer groups about whether these stricter rules on PSB main TV channels remain justified.

Ofcom explains that it is doing this because there have been significant changes in how television is distributed and watched since these rules were first introduced three decades ago. Notably, viewers now benefit from a much wider range of non-PSB channels as well as a host of on-demand television and online streaming services.

Ofcom is aware that it needs to strike the right balance between protecting viewers’ interests and sustaining traditional broadcasters, which includes helping them compete with global streaming platforms.

As Ofcom set out in its review of public service media “Small Screen: Big Debate”, advertising regulation is an important area affecting the financial sustainability of PSBs. Against this backdrop, Ofcom says that it is important to review whether TV advertising rules for PSBs remain effective and proportionate.

Before it makes any decisions, Ofcom says that it will carefully consider all responses and supporting evidence, which includes listening to what TV viewers say. It will then publish the responses and outline next steps, including whether it intends formally to consult on proposals to change TV advertising rules so that they apply equally to all PSB and non-PSB UK TV channels.

The deadline for responses to the call for views is Friday 7 October 2022. To access the call for views, click here.

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