TV chiefs allay fears about text in commercials

- Fears by Britain's agencies about stiffer rules on the use of superimposed text in commercials have been allayed by TV chiefs.

- Fears by Britain's agencies about stiffer rules on the use of superimposed text in commercials have been allayed by TV chiefs.

New regulations which went into force on Monday have caused widespread alarm across the industry because they apply to any words appearing on screen and not just to the disclaimers and conditions required by law.

But at a meeting last week with the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising, officials from the Independent Television Commission and the Broadcast Advertising Clearance Centre said that a commonsense approach will be adopted when the rules are interpreted.

The updated rules are a response to a recent increase in the number of commercials -- mostly for financial products and telecommunications offers -- where the superimposed text has not been on screen long enough and is too small to be read.

The latest guidelines stipulate the size of the text and the time it should be on screen in order that it can be read by the average viewer.

But senior agency creatives were worried about the extension of the rules to cover so-called "non legal" text and the requirement to keep some words on screen for more than two seconds when half a second could be sufficient.

Frank Lieberman, the head of TV at Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO, said: "The new rules could affect the entire creative edit of a commercial and the way creative teams would have to be briefed."

But the ITC and BACC insist they will only act against a commercial if it is clearly misleading and that they will not disrupt commercials already in production and campaigns currently on air.


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