ITC sides with viewers in airtime fight

The Independent Television Commission has given a lukewarm response to calls for an increase in TV advertising minutage by insisting the viewers’ interests come first.

The Independent Television Commission has given a lukewarm response

to calls for an increase in TV advertising minutage by insisting the

viewers’ interests come first.



Frank Willis, the director of advertising and sponsorship at the ITC,

insisted this week that ’the key yardstick for the ITC must remain

viewer welfare’.



He added: ’It remains to be seen whether it can be successfully argued

that the interests of viewers would be better served by more advertising

on ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5.’



The long-running minutage issue came to a head last week when Paul

Polman, the managing director of Procter and Gamble, told delegates at

an Incorporated Society of British Advertisers policy conference that TV

companies should support a change in the minutage rules (Campaign, 14

March).



Polman’s position on minutage is to keep the seven minutes per hour of

advertising as the minimum daily average, but let the maximum daily

average rise to nine minutes.



The suggestion has received widespread support among advertisers, and

the ITVcompanies have also indicated they would be prepared to consider

an increase in minutage (Campaign, last week).



However, any increase would require a change in the ITC regulations.



The ITC is waiting for a formal submission from ISBA - expected within

the next month or two - before it considers the issue officially.



Willis said this week: ’The main objective for advertisers of an

increase would be to reduce or mitigate media inflation; this means such

a policy would not, if successful, be likely to produce a significant

increase in the revenue for funding programmes.’



Feature, p28.