Ofcom's new code, which comes into force on 1 September, removes rules that require a 20-minute interval between ad breaks during programmes and will allow broadcasters to schedule an ad break every 30 minutes during films, rather than the existing 45 minutes.
The changes mean that broadcasters will have greater flexibility in scheduling breaks during programming bought from the US, made without the 20-minute rule in mind. A Channel 4 spokeswoman said: "The revised rule offers broadcasters more flexibility, allowing them to schedule ad breaks at times that do not interrupt viewing and do not alienate viewers."
Broadcasters refuted the idea that a greater number of breaks during films could prove off-putting to audiences. The average film in a two-hour slot can now contain four ad breaks rather than three.
However, the Channel 4 spokeswoman said: "One more break in a two-hour film isn't likely to overly annoy viewers and, within the context of other regulations, this in itself doesn't equate to more advertising."