LONDON: Britain's commercial broadcasters – ITV, Channel 4 and Five – all of which have public service broadcasting obligations - may be allowed to increase the number of peak-time ads shown at weekends, says industry watchdog Ofcom.

This concession may offer a crumb of comfort, especially in the light of predictions by ZenithOptimedia of a further fall in TV adspend.

Broadcasters are currently limited to showing an average of seven minutes of ads each hour, but Ofcom is considering an increase to twelve minutes hourly from 6pm-11pm on Saturdays and Sundays.

The channels could then reduce the amount of advertising they show on nights where ratings are lower to offset the change. 

Research carried out by the regulator also found that viewers will accept four advertising breaks an hour during "light entertainment" shows, but a lower number during dramas.

It also estimates that the UK's largest commercial broadcaster, ITV, could gain as much as £40 million ($70m; €51m) each year if the scheme goes ahead.

ZenithOptimedia's latest quarterly forecast suggests that TV advertising revenues will dive by 8.3% this year, down from its previous estimate of a 4.4% fall.

Data sourced from Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff