U.K. regulator rules out increase in TV ads

Will let broadcasters air overnight tele-shopping shows

LONDON -- U.K. media regulator Ofcom has nixed plans to allow public service broadcasters to air more ads in primetime, but said Tuesday it will allow them to air overnight tele-shopping fare in order to boost revenues.

Ofcom said it had rejected proposals to allow broadcasters to be able to air an extra 20 minutes of ads during weekend peak periods, potentially earning and extra £40 million ($63.7 million) a year in advertising revenue -- but has said PSB channels including ITV, Five and Channel 4 will be allowed to air TV-shopping overnight between 12 p.m. and 6 a.m.

The main networks here are currently limited to 40 minutes of ads per weeknight between 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. but digital channels such as Sky One and E4 are allowed more ad minutes.

Ofcom said it will review the impact the moves have on the ad market here and publish a further report looking at aligning the ad minutes aired by PSBs and non-PSB channels by next spring.

"We do not consider that it would be sensible to start that process of harmonization now," the regulator said, "as all broadcasters are suffering from the effects of a recession which has resulted in a sharp decline in television advertising revenues," it concluded.