NEW YORK: US television networks appear to have taken to heart the gripes of viewers and advertisers about commercial 'clutter'. A new survey by media buyer MindShare shows broadcasters devoted only the same amount of time - 15 minutes per hour- to promotions and ads last year as they did in 2005.

Cable TV's growth in ads or promotion time slowed to 1% from 5.5% in 2005, according to the study. CBS, Fox and MTV even managed to slightly decrease the number of non-program minutes per hour, in contrast to a rise at ABC, which was up 12 seconds on the previous year.

Cable news leader Fox News clocked the biggest rise in non-program minutes last year, averaging 15m:10s per primetime hour, says MindShare, up from 13m:26s in 2005.

As Nielsen Media Research prepares for the imminent launch of its commercial ratings, which will indicate how many viewers watch commercials during a specified program, some marketers expect the data to confirm that higher clutter is a cue for viewers to switch-off (literally or metaphorically) during ad-breaks.

Comments Tony Pace, cmo at the Subway Franchisee Advertising Fund Trust: "Any time the ad volume goes down, I think it's a little bit easier for a consumer to pick up individual messages and comprehend them."

Both cable and broadcast networks are tinkering with new ad formats in an effort to capture the attention of increasingly elusive viewers, including shorter breaks with fewer commercials.

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff