Ofcom ad rules and ITV regional/national news requirements
If you tuned in to The 1% Club on ITV 1 yesterday, you might have come across a minor conundrum.
During the show, the breaks were filled with previews.
Naturally, the majority of Pres aficionados and frequent visitors to this site are well aware of the reason behind this.
Channels like ITV 1, Channel 4, and Channel 5 are limited to airing only 40 minutes of advertisements during the period of 6pm to 11pm. However, they are allowed to broadcast up to 12 minutes of ads within an hour. As a result, there are some hours with less or no ads so that more commercials can be squeezed around highly rated and profitable programs.
Throughout the week, it could be said that there is a advantage for viewers as there are less advertisements during the news. This is why Ofcom caused a stir when it decided to delay proposals that would have granted PSBs the ability to broadcast the same amount of ads as their commercial counterparts.
During weekends, there are no discernible advantages that can be attributed to the general public.
The rules needed to be modified as per the desire of ITV, STV, and Channel 4. However, Channel 5's parent company was not in favor of it.
The interruptions caused by trailers can be quite bothersome and monotonous. It's likely that many people assume the airtime for advertisements wasn't able to be filled, which doesn't exactly cast the program in a favorable light.
Ofcom is now planning to consider the matter comprehensively, encompassing aspects such as the extension of licenses for ITV and Channel 5, and the passing of the Media Bill, which is slated to take effect before the upcoming national election.
As far as I know, there hasn't been any open dialogue about the potential alterations to ITV 1's particular responsibilities towards the public in the upcoming licensing period starting on January 2025.
The talks with Ofcom will probably concentrate on determining the amount of regional news coverage and specialized programming in different regions that can be maintained without running into financial difficulties.
However, it's possible that further discussion is needed in order to ensure clear understanding for future actions.
It wouldn't hurt if the new licenses gave a specific amount of time for both local and national news coverage. This would guarantee the absolute minimum requirement.
From my interpretation, the current requirements slightly mix up the true duration of the program with the allocated time slot.
When ITV 1 broadcasts during its peak viewing hours, it's required to air 30 minutes of news. However, it's unclear whether this entails a 30-minute program that includes commercials or if it's a bare minimum of 30 minutes of genuine news coverage.
If the regulations specifically stated the exact amount of time that must be dedicated to broadcasting news updates, then there would be no possibility of reducing the news coverage solely due to extra commercials.
Currently, this is just a theoretical concept - ITV 1 greatly exceeds their obligations for providing national news with their one-hour broadcast at 6:30pm and News at Ten.
The latest trading disclosures from ITV plc and STV demonstrate the difficult conditions in which advertising sales are currently operating.
The current financial climate combined with the migration of certain marketers to the digital realm is becoming a significant challenge.
It is necessary for Ofcom to act swiftly and reconsider the present limitations.
It is important to establish a clear and definite timeframe for news bulletins. For instance, a news show that is supposed to last for 30 minutes may actually only consist of 23 actual minutes.
However, extending the current regulations will ultimately result in more frequent rest periods for truckers during the weekends, commonly referred to as "trailer breaks."
In the most negative scenario, they contribute to the challenges that ITV and Channel 4 are already encountering.