No added commercials, say networks

CRTC deregulation paves the way for more commercials on conventional television, but networks say they won't change ad inventory in prime time.


Canadian conventional networks can now air as many TV commercials in prime time as they wish, after the CRTC completed its two-year phase-out of per-hour ad-minute restrictions on Sept. 1.

But don’t expect the networks to carry more ads in prime time, not least to avoid offending viewers with more clutter. All major networks contacted, including CBC and CTV, said they had no immediate plans to boost their ad inventory in prime time, where the bulk of commercial revenue is earned.

‘There is a lot of inventory available right now, so there’s no advantage to adding more,’ says Don Gaudet, GM of Toronto-based Sun TV.

The CRTC first unveiled plans to deregulate ad minutes on Canadian TV during better times in 2007. The regulator said conventional networks could move year-by-year from 12 to 14 and finally a maximum 15 minutes by Sept. 1, 2008 to raise commercial revenues.

But broadcasters warn boosting the supply of commercial airtime during the current TV ad slump will only further reduce advertising rates and reduce overall revenue.

‘With a lack of demand, you can’t really take advantage of it. You end up running more promos,’ explains Errol Da-Ré, EVP of sales at Canwest Global. He cited potential to run an extra 30 seconds or one minute of advertising in daytime or other non-peak slots. But here revenue gains would be marginal.

In prime time, by contrast, Canada’s simulcast regime means domestic networks remain restricted by the American format of generally 14 or 15 minutes of in-built ads per-hour. And shaving a minute or two off of a popular U.S. series to boost ad revenues would only risk denting ratings, broadcasters say.

The bigger change in the CRTC deregulation is greater flexibility in how networks promote their Canadian and foreign shows in non-programming slots.

The TV watchdog never regulated the Canadian promos run by conventional networks, which formerly aired to make up the difference between the amount of commercial time networks were allowed and the overall time available for non-programming. So when the Canadian ad-minute cap was 12 minutes and a US show had 14 minutes of commercials per-hour, the nets aired two minutes of news updates and promos for Canadian shows.

Domestic broadcasters were prescribed in how they aired promos for US shows, as the CRTC considered that commercial time included in the 12/14/15 minute cap in place until Sept. 1.

Now, with all restrictions removed, the nets anticipate greater flexibility in how they promote foreign programs, while still maintaining Canadian promotional time in each hour.

‘The commission has given us more flexibility in how to use the non-programming content time in each hour, but ultimately the overall time itself will not change,’ says a CTV spokesperson.

From Playback Daily