15 July 2022

We’re seeking views on changes to TV advertising rules

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

All UK broadcasters are subject to restrictions on how much advertising they can show on their channels, and when they show it. But under rules introduced over 30 years ago, the UK’s public service broadcasters – ITV, STV, Channel 4, S4C and Channel 5 – are subject to tighter advertising restrictions than non-PSB channels.

We want to hear from groups such as the broadcasters themselves, advertising and sales organisations, audiences and consumer groups about whether these stricter rules remain justified.

Why are we doing this?

There have been significant changes in how television is distributed and watched since these rules were first introduced three decades ago. In particular, 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.

We need to strike the right balance between protecting viewers’ interests and sustaining our traditional broadcasters, which includes helping them compete with global streaming platforms.

As we set out in our review of public service media – Small Screen: Big Debateadvertising regulation is an important area affecting the financial sustainability of the PSBs. This is why it’s important to review whether the TV advertising rules for public service broadcasters remain effective and proportionate.

Before we make any decisions, we will carefully consider all responses and supporting evidence, and that includes listening to what TV viewers say.

Next steps

The deadline for responses to this call for evidence is Friday 7 October 2022.

Later this year we will publish responses to this consultation and outline next steps – including whether we intend formally to consult on proposals to change TV advertising rules so they apply equally to all PSB and non-PSB UK TV channels.

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