CRTC removes restrictions on U.S. promos

Nets not likely to change ad inventory during slump

TORONTO -- Canadians can expect to view more TV promos for "Survivor," "Desperate Housewives" and "American Idol" after the country's TV regulator removed all restrictions on the number of ad minutes domestic broadcasters can carry per hour.

Beginning Sept. 1, domestic networks like CTV and Global Television are free to air as many commercials as they wish.

But conventional broadcasters see little possibility of adding to their commercial inventory during the current TV ad slump, as boosting the supply would only drive down advertising rates further.

"There is a lot of inventory available right now, so there's no advantage to adding more," said Don Gaudet, general manager of Toronto-based Sun TV.

A spokesman for the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. said the public broadcaster also had no "current plans" to increase its ad minutes per hour, even during peak advertising periods.

Rival broadcasters echoed that theme, also hinting Canadian TV viewers appear maxed out when it comes to viewing primetime ads.

At the same time, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission has also changed rules on how many promos for U.S. shows domestic broadcasters can air per hour. Previously, Canadian network promos for U.S. shows were considered commercial time included in the per-hour cap. So when domestic broadcasters were restricted to 12 minutes of advertising per hour, and a typical U.S. show had 14 or 15 minutes of commercial time, the Canadian network made up the difference with promos of homegrown shows.

Now with restrictions on U.S. promos removed, Canadian networks insist they have greater flexibility in how they promote U.S. primetime series on their schedules.

"The commission has given us more flexibility in how to use the non-programming content time in each hour, but ultimately the overall time itself will not change," a CTV spokesman said.