U.K. Pay Channels Fight Proposals to Cut TV Ad Time

The House of Lords Communications Committee has suggested that pay and free-to-air channels should be restricted to seven ad-minutes per hour.

 

LONDON -- Pay channels like MTV, Discovery and BSkyB are fighting proposals to cut back TV ad minutes, warning that it would impact their plans for U.K. program investment and cost them £80 million ($130 million) a year.

Umbrella group the Satellite and Cable Broadcasters' Group -- which represents pay channels here -- said that satellite and cable channels contributed £430 million ($698 million) investment in programming last year, and that cutting at minutes would cost its members £80 million in revenues.

The House of Lords Communications Committee has suggested that pay and free-to-air channels should be restricted to seven ad-minutes per hour.

Under the existing rules the main public service broadcasting channels like ITV and Channel 4 are allowed to average seven minutes of ads an hour moving up to eight minutes between 6 p.m. and 10.30 p.m. Digital channels including MTV, E4, Living and Sky1 can average nine ad-minutes per hour, increasing to 12 minutes an hour in the evenings.

The Lords committee is also recommending scrapping CRR, a mechanism by which ITV's advertising power is controlled.

"Today's proposals run the risk of reducing viewer choice by seeking to favor commercial PSB broadcasters who already enjoy a position of dominance," said David Lynn, the SCBG chair and managing director of MTV Networks U.K.

"We cannot understand how in praising the non public service broadcasters for their "welcome" investment in original U.K. content, the Lords can at the same time recommend a measure that will result in our sector losing up to £80 million a year, once again significantly weakening the incentives for non-PSB broadcasters to invest in content in the U.K."

The committee's findings will be handed to culture secretary Jeremy Hunt, who is currently deliberating News Corp's proposed takeover of BSkyB and the appointment of the next chair of the BBC Trust.

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