On 29 March 2010, we published a consultation document proposing removal of the Airtime Sales Rules. These are two distinct rules relating to how broadcasters sell TV airtime. The 'withholding rule' means that all airtime available on ITV1, C4 and Five must be sold. The 'conditional selling rule' applies to all broadcasters, prohibiting them from forcing advertisers and media buyers, who want to buy airtime on one channel, to purchase airtime on additional channels.
In the consultation document, we outlined our view that there are few incentives to withhold airtime. We also noted that it may be more appropriate to treat possible conditional selling by broadcasters on a case by case basis.
Having reviewed the consultation responses, our view is that no new evidence has been presented to change our conclusions that it is appropriate to remove the Rules. In addition, we believe we should complete our review now in order to ensure that unnecessary regulation does not prevent the sector from evolving. We conclude that we cannot justify launching a broader review of the market at this time given the lack of clarity about the nature and scale of possible competition problems and consumer harm, and the extended period of uncertainty that the sector would face.
Therefore Ofcom will remove the Airtime Sales Rules on 1 September 2010. This should provide regulatory certainty ahead of the next deal season for TV advertising airtime which will take place in the autumn.