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Ofcom recently said that it was considering relaxing its rules on the frequency and duration of advertisement breaks. The regulator claimed the new rules would boost broadcaster revenues and ensure their long-term viability in the streaming age.

The current rules allow the public service commercial broadcasters to air an average of seven minutes of advertising per hour, but this increases to nine minutes for private channels and 12 minutes for teleshopping broadcasts.

The rules were last changed over 30 years ago when the main four broadcasters had 95% of the audience share and Ofcom wanted the newer commercial channels to grow. In 2022, things are different but also very much the same in terms of new challengers entering the market.

But while longer ad slots may be profitable for the broadcasters – it could impact audiences and potentially push them further towards streaming platforms (which themselves are beginning to flirt with advertising).

The business reality is that more advertising slots mean less of a cost for advertisers and so engagement here is smart. Each outlet should consider how they apply something like this and, crucially, when they apply it.

Long advertising breaks during news (especially in the modern world) doesn’t feel appropriate but entertainment programming it does.

All age groups are used to adverts – whether we like them or not – millennials and Gen Z grew up with them on YouTube (some up to 30 seconds on only short videos) so while there may be ‘noise’ about an extension, it will ultimately land fine with public audiences.

It is important to note that this is just a consideration at this point – and any plans or changes will be worked through with the broadcasters themselves.

Who knows – perhaps longer advert breaks will lead to an explosion of creativity in the sector making them funny, engaging or tear-jerking in their own right.

We just don’t fancy 7 minutes of that Daisy Daisy Daisy Daisy Daisy one…

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