My sofa partner and I watch television regularly. We don’t go in for that Netflix or Amazon stuff and we cannot afford Sky, but we do pay our BBC licence very happily in exchange for not having to watch advertisements. But, we do have to watch them sometimes as some of our favourite soaps and dramas are on ITV.
There are currently restrictions on the amount of advertising that any UK television broadcaster is allowed to show on its channels. These restrictions have been put in place to ensure that viewers are not exposed to excessive amounts of advertising, and that the quality of the viewing experience is maintained.
Ofcom, the communications watchdog changed its rules in 2011 to allow ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 to screen a maximum of 12 minutes of adverts per hour, an increase from the previous seven minutes.
But this still seems to be far too much as good dramas and films are constantly interrupted by commercial breaks and we find it difficult to follow the action. Last year, Downton Abbey came under fire after a 90-minute programme contained six breaks, taking up almost 20 minutes of screen time.
Viewers complained the semi-finals of ITV’s Britain’s Got Talent were ruined by adverts screened between each act.
Not only are there too many interruptions, but with a few exceptions, most of the adverts are tedious and in some cases offensive. We get fed up with being told we should change our service suppliers and compare markets for insurance. The meerkats we can just about tolerate, but the overweight man singing Go Compare at us is an aria too far.
The ad featuring a man strutting and twerking in high heels and denim hot pants was, quite understandably, the most complained-about TV ad in the UK last year. The TV ad, part of the brand’s “so Moneysupermarket” campaign about consumers who have saved cash using the price comparison website, features middle-aged “Dave” in an “epic strut” through London’s streets.
The Advertising Standards Authority received 1,513 complaints from outraged members of the public who felt the ad was offensive, although the ad watchdog cleared it of any breach of the UK advertising code.