Advertisers push for more TV air time

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Britain's advertisers want an increase in the amount of advertising they are allowed on ITV and Channel 4, writes Maggie Brown.

Leading delegates at the annual policy conference of the Incorporated Society of British Advertisers said they were to start lobbying for a change, after eight years of truce.

"Surely we have an opportunity to increase the minutage without becoming a laughing stock like Italian television," Dominic Proctor, chief executive of J Walter Thompson, said. Addressing the conference attended by most of the key advertising managers inthe UK, he said that the advertisements could be spread in more frequent but shorter breaks.

Laurence Haselhurst, Media and Marketing Services Manager for Pedigree Pet Foods, said "it was time that we all looked at minutage".

At present advertising is restricted to seven minutes on average per hour, rising to seven and a half minutes at peak time. Mr Haselhurst pointed out that this was far below the amount screened on Italian television, but he added advertisers did not wantto go down the Italian route.

This is because the industry fears that increasing the amount of clutter and number of advertisements makes the audience want to switch off and also reduces the overall impact of the messages they are trying to get across.

The issue has been reignited because, since 1992, advertisers have faced renewed "cost inflation".

This phenomenon - by which the price of television advertising air time rises much faster than general inflation - bedevilled the 1980s.

It has been happening again in the last two years as the country and economy recover from recession. There has been an approximate 30 per cent increase in the cost of air time in the past two years and it is currently rising at three times the inflation rate.