ITV targets advertisers to 'sponsor' News at Ten

ITV is working on plans to introduce centre ad breaks into its News at Ten broadcasts and wants a single "premium" advertiser to back each programme.

The company has approached agencies about buying a single 30-second ad break that would feature an ad from an advertiser whose status fits with the audience profile of the programme.

Sponsorship of news bulletins is banned under broadcasting regulations, but these ads would run in time designated for advertising rather than at the beginning and end of each programme.

News at Ten, which returned last week, currently runs without an ad break until 10.25pm, when it shifts to regional news.

The move has won praise from agencies. One broadcast director said: "It's good that ITV is trying something different. News at Ten has a highbrow feel, but you lose that if you surround it with lightweight FMCG advertising."