Big brands benefit from new TV advertising code

United Kingdom
The revised Ofcom Code on the Scheduling of Television Advertisements came into force on September 1 2008. The revision, said to be shorter and simpler than its predecessor, follows changes to the EU advertising regulation framework as set out in the EU Audiovisual Media Services Directive (2007/65/EC).
According to Ofcom, the new code makes no changes to the amount of television advertising or the number of advertising breaks in most programmes. The main changes are as follows:
  • The rule that required a 20-minute interval between advertising breaks within programmes - which annoyed viewers by forcing the first and last breaks to be scheduled very close to the beginning and end of some programmes - has been removed;
  • Broadcasters may now include one advertising break for every 30 minutes of a film, instead of one for every 45 minutes; and
  • There are no longer any restrictions on advertising breaks in documentaries, current affairs programmes and religious affairs programmes.
The code appears to be almost as brand-friendly as a television advertising code can be. The television watcher has a split personality. So far as programme makers are concerned, the viewer is there to be educated, amused, entertained and stimulated. However, to the advertiser, the viewer is a consumer to be won over and converted into a goodwill-driven income stream. Wanting to be a viewer, the watcher becomes a sitting target for the advertiser.
As the advertising media become more fragmented in the Internet era, mass television advertising will remain relevant only for brands relating to goods and services for which every viewer is a potential customer (eg, food and financial services); perhaps these mega brands, although not yet given ‘endangered species’ status, need the special degree of nurture which an advertiser-friendly code bestows upon them.
Jeremy Phillips, IP consultant to Olswang, London

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