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“There is no measured demand from either viewers or advertisers for an increase in TV ad limits so we are at a loss as to why the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) is seeking to change the rules on Advertising and Teleshopping. There is no objective basis to these proposals which are ill conceived. They are a clear example of regulation that is unfair and un-reasonable given that it gives a clear competitive advantage to one sector of independent broadcasting without any regard or knowledge of the effect of this action on other broadcasters”.

This view of Scott Williams, Chairman of the Independent Broadcasters of Ireland (IBI) is shared by IBI’s 35 member stations across Ireland who are experiencing ‘the most difficult financial period ever faced by the sector’, according to Williams.

The BAI proposes to increase the amount of advertising permitted per hour on commercial television broadcasters from the current maximum of 10 minutes per hour to 12 minutes per hour.

“We all agree that the recent recession has had a huge impact on the operations of all independent broadcasters in Ireland. There have been job losses, cost cuts, renegotiation of contracts, prices and charges. In the independent radio sector, ad revenues have fallen up to 30% with no immediate sign of improvement for the foreseeable future.

“Simply, everyone has been forced to do lots more with diminished resources. To use this fact as a justification to increase the amount of advertising allowed on television, while blatantly ignoring radio stations in the exact same financial situation, is inappropriate in the current economic climate, inconsistent from a regulatory viewpoint, and clearly unfair to independent radio operators”, says Williams. “It will distort the market and place radio stations at a massive disadvantage in terms of advertising volume, advertising rates and ultimately the financial viability of many radio stations”.

Williams says the current BAI advertising code is too restrictive on broadcasters and that greater flexibility in the scheduling of advertising slots rather than increasing the advertising minutes would have a more beneficial effect for broadcasters and listeners.

“Currently, broadcasters must broadcast 10 minutes of advertising per hour and cannot carry over unused minutes into subsequent hours. Radio operates in a live environment with breaking news and the flow of live interviews. One of our members was recently found to be in breach of the code because they were a few seconds outside the hour in breaking for advertising. If advertising minuteage were averaged across the full broadcast day, these petty breaches would be eliminated and more importantly, we could provide a more free flowing radio service for the listening public”.

The IBI also want to see Co-Regulation introduced by the BAI. “Co-Regulation already works as we have seen in the current co-regulation of alcohol advertising and sponsorship. A similar approach could be adopted by the BAI for general radio station monitoring on adherence to the general advertising code. This would reduce the BAI’s monitoring and administration costs while at the same time allowing radio stations to improve their financial positions through better scheduling of advertisements”, said Williams.

According to Williams, introducing flexibility into the code and allowing Co-Regulation will help alleviate the unfair advantage being given to independent TV broadcasters

“We have no argument with independent television broadcasters per se”, said Williams, “but It is regrettable that the BAI has not proposed changes in advertising that might assist independent radio stations in their attempts to survive the recession. We are very clear that the BAI must not introduce a ruling which allows one sector of the independent commercial broadcasters to better its financial position without extending this opportunity to all independent commercial broadcasters”.

-Ends-

About the Independent Broadcasters of Ireland
The Independent Broadcasters of Ireland (IBI) is the representative body for Ireland’s independent commercial radio broadcasters. The mission of the IBI is to champion the agenda of independent broadcasters in Ireland and to be a distinct and coherent national voice in the ongoing campaign for competitive equality across the sector.

The independent voice of Ireland, 64.5% of the population tune into independent radio on a daily basis. This translates into weekday figures of 2.473 million listeners. With more than 1500 people employed in the sector, independent broadcasters make a significant economic, social and cultural contribution to the Irish economy. The IBI represents 2 national radio stations, 1 multicity radio station, 4 regional radio stations and 27 local radio stations. For more information please visit: www.ibireland.ie.

For information:

Lisa Ni Choisdealbha, Independent Broadcasters of Ireland, 087 2038956
Laurie Mannix / Julie Dilger, MKC Communications, 086 8143710