Another ad? Why you could be putting the kettle on even more often during your favourite shows

Katie Archer
Contributor
(Channel 4)

TV viewers could be facing even more interruptions to their favourite programmes if plans to lift the cap on adverts go ahead.

At the moment, terrestrial broadcasters are allowed to show up to seven minutes of advertising per hour of telly.

But now, the restrictions set by the UK communications regulator Ofcom are under review as channels struggle to compete with online streaming.

Major broadcasters including ITV and Channel 4 are in consultation with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) about lifting the seven-minute-per-hour cap, saying that their advertising revenue is under threat from sources including Google and Facebook.

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If channels want to start upping the number or length of ad breaks, they’ll need to justify that changes to the regulations are necessary, which is what the consultation is currently looking at.

However, if more TV ads get the green light, it’s unlikely to be a popular move with viewers as a recent Ofcom report showed that more than half of us in the UK think there are too many breaks per hour.

DEPARTMENT FOR CULTURE, MEDIA AND SPORT, Britain, graphic element on black

You may have noticed that you’re already seeing more than the allocated seven minutes, as the limit rises to eight minutes per hour during the prime time period, and other commercial broadcasters who don’t come into the public service category like ITV, Channel 4 and Channel Five can go up to nine minutes per hour.

We’re still lucky not to have it as bad as some other countries, though - broadcasters working under European law have a cap of 12 minutes per hour which is set to rise to 20 minutes next year.

Newly installed Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Nicky Morgan leaves 10 Downing Street, London, after a cabinet meeting. (Photo by Aaron Chown/PA Images via Getty Images)

Many TV broadcasters have reported a decline in advertising revenue, but it isn’t yet definite that the DCMS and Ofcom will go ahead with proposed changes.

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A spokesperson for the DCMS said: “The government is consulting on a range of issues in the broadcasting market, including in relation to advertising.

“We already have strict limits in place on advertising and we have been clear that we have no plans to make legislative changes in this area.

“We want to continue to deliver a world-class television broadcasting service in the UK.”