The UK's biggest commercial broadcaster, ITV, is making changes in the way its programs are sponsored.

The company is to double the length of time sponsors can promote their products at the beginning and end of ad breaks, acknowledging the increasing importance of this marketing route in the era of ad-skipping PVR technology.

Sponsors' idents will now be ten seconds long during ad breaks, but will remain fifteen seconds and five seconds respectively at the start and end of shows.

The changes, which come into effect in January, take advantage of an easing in the rules by media watchdog Ofcom. The regulator has allowed idents to promote the benefits of products for the first time, but prices cannot be shown.

Says ITV's head of sponsorship and branded content, Gary Knight: "It's very difficult to be very creative in a five-second break. Ofcom's removal of the time restrictions allows much more creativity."

But ITV declined to go down the route of unlimited ident time, now permitted by Ofcom, fearing it would "end up robbing the viewers of a show rather than giving more to them".

The broadcaster is about to begin renewal negotiations with confectionery giant Cadbury, which has sponsored its top soap opera Coronation Street to the tune of £10 million ($17.8m; €14.4m) annually for the last eleven years.

Data sourced from; additional content by WARC staff