Is Anybody Watching The ads? More ad time is the problem not the solution

Maybe the cheap and nasty ads are the ones we watch.

Having suffered saturation advertising on Kiwi television, many New Zealanders visiting Britain relished the civilized approach there. The BBC had no advertising and the commercial channels had severe limits. As a result, you watched more entertaining TV and paid more attention to the fewer ads you watched.

It seemed the Brits had devised a system that mixed commerciality with public service and the viewer was at the centre of the TV world. At around one twentieth the population, New Zealand could never afford such a system. Instead NZ developed a system that gave advertisers power over programming and allowed with generous taxpayer funding for mostly advertiser-friendly programming.

So I was interested by a report in Britain’s Daily Telegraph about broadcasters celebrating rule changes that allow more ads on UK commercial TV so they could compete with Netflix.

“Prime time television viewers can expect to be hit with more advertising following an EU rules change designed to help traditional broadcasters compete with streaming services such as Netflix.

At present advertising is capped at 12 minutes per hour but under the planned new regime this would be scrapped in favour of a daily limit of 20 per cent advertising between, giving networks greater opportunity to target ads when most people are watching with a corresponding decrease during little watched daytime slots.

Currently ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 forced to limit advertising to an average of seven minutes per hour, with 12 minutes per hour being the upper maximum.” The Daily Telegraph said.

In this country there are voluntary limits which amount to 20 per cent and in my mind much of aNew Zealand prime time is sometimes unwatchable, in its raw state at least.

The networks have long been fighting to have ads on Sunday morning, removing the only bastion of noncommercial free TV.

Shows like TV3's The Nation are out last links to public television
Shows like TV3’s The Nation are out last links to public television,

But how many people are watching the ads in New Zealand? And is it worth them fighting for more ad time? I use ad free Netflix and Lightbox, and enjoy Rialto and Soho channels with no ads inside programmes. Personal video recorders MySky and My Freeview allow me to fast-forward through all the rest. So good luck to the UK commercial broadcaster – or those in New Zealand – who believe more ad time will help them fight Netflix and Pay TV. No matter how many more ads you run people will always avoid saturation low budget TV advertising. Like much of commercial media at the moment, it just doesn’t make sense.

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