The Amount of Advertising

The Television Act does not lay down precisely the amount of advertising that may be allowed: it simply places upon the Authority the duty to secure “that the amount of time given to advertising in the programmes shall not be so great as to detract from the value of the programmes as a medium of entertainment, instruction, and information”. Since the beginning of transmissions in 1955, the Authority has allowed a maximum of six minutes of spot advertising an hour, averaged over the day’s programmes, but a further rule restricts the maximum to seven minutes in any single “clock-hour” (e.g. from 6-7 p.m., 7-8 p.m., etc.).

Control of the maximum amount of advertising by the clock hour has its merits as a tidy statistical device, but of course the rigidity of the clock hour conflicts occasionally with the need for flexibility in the timing of programmes and with the natural incidence of intervals in which the advertisements may be shown. So the Authority is prepared occasionally to allow minor departures from the seven-minute maximum if, for example, an interval of advertising falls just on one side of the striking of an hour instead of another, thus carrying a minute or two of advertising from one clock hour into another. In each case, however, the excess is counter-balanced by an equivalent reduction in the amount of advertising in the adjacent hour.

The following figures show the average hourly amount of advertising for all the Authority’s stations in service during each month of 1962:

Average amount of advertising
Month Average per hour over whole day (minutes) Average per hour between 7 and 10 p.m. (minutes)
January 4.9 6.6
February 4.6 6.3
March 4.7 6.2
April 4.9 6.2
May 4.4 6.2
June 4.4 6.0
July 5.0 6.5
August 4.4 6.1
September 4.2 6.1
October 4.4 6.4
November 4.9 6.5
December 4.3 5.9

Over the year as a whole, an average of 4.6 minutes an hour of spot advertising (about 7½ per cent of the broadcasting time) was transmitted from each station.

The Independent Television Authority allows less advertising in its programmes than is common in comparable self-supporting systems abroad.