F1 in the blogs 24: ITV & Ofcom

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ITVAre ITV breaking broadcasting regulations by showing advertisements during live Formula 1 races? Jon McKnight thinks so, and he’s trying to do something about it.

Also in the round-up of the F1 blogs this week, Superleague Formula, BMW’s Pit Lane Park, the joys of being a Minardi fan, and why NASCAR fans should give F1 a try.

F1Fanatic’s Post of the Week

Stop the spoilsports!

Jon McKnight reckons Ofcom should step in to stop ITV from running adverts during F1 races. He’s set up a petition and has stacks of information on how to complain. Check it out.

More F1 in the blogs

Pedro de la Rosa, McLaren-Mercedes, Hockenheim, 2006Pedro de la Rosa blames lack of karting for his stalled career – The Spaniard started late compared to his rivals – not least of which Fernando Alonso who began karting at the age of three!

Premier 1 GP v2.0 – Our sister site Maximum Motorsport on the latest plans to bring motor sport and football together.

Gear up for F1! – A blogger’s trip through the BMW Pit Lane Park as it visits Malaysia.

New angle on F1 – Onboard cameras in F1 take a step forward – but when are we going to get HD?

Avanti Minardi! You’ve got to admire the little guys. Formula 1 has lost something with the absence of Minardi and their back of the grid cohorts.

15 Reasons for a NASCAR Fan to Watch Formula One – The never-ending debate goes on.

Everyone wants a piece of Lewis – From Richard and Judy to Stevenage Borough FC, Lewis Hamilton is in massive demand. Don’t expect him to do those nude centrefolds any time soon, though.

Malaysia 2007: Pics from the paddock – Behind the scenes with the Renault F1 blog

Fauzy apologies – Malaysians will not get to see their home hero in action for Spyker on Friday.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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7 comments on “F1 in the blogs 24: ITV & Ofcom”

  1. I am sorry, but as much as I dislike the adverts, Jon McKnight is simply wrong. One of the first things he says is that there is nothing to stop ITV from grouping adverts together before and after the race — but this is obviously untrue.

    There are actually very strict regulations that govern the number of adverts that can be taken in any one hour and the gaps between advert breaks. Channel 4 fell foul of that rule a couple of years ago for their frequent advert breaks during ‘Lost’.

    The bit where he says ‘(b)’ doesn’t apply is also wrong. I mean, I can only assume he hasn’t even read the paragraph that he quoted which says:

    In live coverage of long continuous events breaks may be taken at points where the focus of coverage shifts from one point to another of the event for example after a resume of the current placings in a race and before refocusing on a particular section of the race.

    This does apply to F1, and moreover ITV make a notable attempt to stick rigidly to the rule. Ever noticed how the commentators almost always without fail give a run-down of the current running order before going to a break? And then, when the adverts are finished, they always — always — say, “Lap [x] at the Malaysian Grand Prix”. This is what ITV do to get round the Ofcom regulations and it is perfectly legitimate.

    So we are at the situation which we always were. The adverts are very, very annoying. But they are perfectly legal, and a harsh reality in a commercial world.

    I’m sorry for posting this here, but I have to because Mr McKnight isn’t allowing comments on his post! I wonder why…

  2. I agree with doctorvee. Those rules in (b) were added specifically due to a request for clarification by ITV prior to buying the F1 rights. Basically they checked to see if it would be legal before they stumped up the cash (they aren’t totally imbecilic).

    If this succeeds we might get no ads, but we’d have to pay a subscription to watch F1. F1 wants the money, ads or no ads.

    They should do what they do in Italy or Germany. In Italy there are more ad spots but they are only 15 seconds long. This is actually what I believe ITV want to do but they are stopped from doing this because of the regulations. In Germany they have, from memory, 30 second spots but there is picture in picture. In the top right hand corner you can still see the race. This would be the ideal obviously.

    Well the idea would for it to be back on the BBC with Murray Walker commentating, but that aint going to happen.

  3. Robert McKay
    10th April 2007, 10:51

    I think Jon McKnight is missing the point. Even if ITV could take all the adbreaks either side of the race, why would it want to? The advertisers know people are watching the race, that’s why they pay for the privilege of advertising their products at that time. People are less inclined to watch the buildup and so are more likely to turn over if there’s adverts and not come back till the race itself. That’s why the adbreaks are much shorter in the pre- and post-race coverage. To make up for the loss of ad breaks during the races, then not only would you have to have lots of adbreaks during the pre and post show, but those breaks would have to be several times longer.

    The adbreaks are more or less a neccessity. It’s annoying, of course. Ad-free F1 on ITV is just not financially viable. Maybe there are alternative ways of having the ads: either a running banner at the bottom of the screen instead of adbreaks, or the much-talked-about-yet-never-seen picture-in-picture which would allow a quarter of the screen to show the F1 picture and the rest the adbreaks as Alex Andronov says (something seen on Sky Sports Soccer Saturday, though I believe the regulations are different still for reasons I don’t understand).

  4. Picture-within-a-picture would be a great idea, but as the above commenters have said, it is currently against the Ofcom regulations. Sky Sports gets away with it because it only shows text (ie. football scores etc.) during the adverts. Text is allowed, but other moving images are not.

  5. Jon McKnight
    14th April 2007, 15:22

    Thanks for the response. The reason I do not allow comments to be posted on my blog is simply that I do not wish to accept legal responsibility for comments that others may leave, bearing in mind that several far more successful blogs have been taken off the air because of abuse by some leaving comments, or defamatory remarks about third parties. I simply don’t have the time to monitor comments, so have blocked them. But I have put my e-mail address on the site (most bloggers don’t do so) because I am happy to hear from people privately.

    That said, I disagree with Doctorvee and Robert McKay when they say I’ve missed the point. With respect, I don’t think I have.

    I checked with Ofcom and read the rules thoroughly before posting my blog, and I firmly believe that ITV would be entitled to cluster the ads either side of the live race without falling foul of the regulations. Ofcom allows broadcasters to average out the ads concentration over a period, and they could certainly do so.

    I particularly do agree to differ with Doctorvee about my interpretation (and his) of Rule (b) where it refers to the focus of coverage shifting from one point to another of the event, for example after a resume of the current placings, etc.

    I would have thought that Doctorvee, and any other true F1 fan, would wish to see the entire race and would therefore want to keep his focus, and ITV’s, on it throughout.

    Unlike a football match, in which there is a natural break at half time, there is no point in an F1 race at which a true fan would consider it okay to shift the focus of his attention elsewhere (ie, do something else other than watch the action).

    And as it is a live event, the ITV director would have to be clairvoyant to know that nothing was going to happen for the following two minutes that he chooses to devote to an ad break. Perhaps he can predict Lottery numbers, too?

    My point is that we, and ITV, should focus on the race for every second of it, not wander off to do something else for almost 15 minutes of it and hope that nothing interesting happens in the meantime while we’re not paying attention.

    It’s true, as Doctorvee says, that ITV almost always gives a rundown of current placings before going to an ad break, but that would only let them off the hook under the regulations if it was the type of event that did allow a shift of focus from one point of it to another. F1, due to its unpredicability, and viewers’ wish to see all of it, does not allow that.

    Does Doctorvee really find it acceptable to miss almost 15 minutes of a race? I miss every single second of the race that’s denied to me, and I imagine that most other fans do, too.

    Like other writers here, I would be perfectly satisfied if picture-in-picture were allowed, and I would feel a lot more charitable towards advertisers if they were able to buy spots on that basis (though this is not a choice open to them in the UK yet).

    I do not wish to have ads banned and realise, as a TV producer, that they are necessary to the funding of the programme.

    And, unlike Doctorvee, I don’t dislike the adverts. Some of them are modern works of art, very clever, and highly entertaining. I just don’t want them interrupting the race.

    I would hope that readers of this forum and f1fanatic.co.uk might consider signing my online petition after all, or nothing will change.

    Thank you to all those who have taken the trouble to reply.


  6. According to [url=http://www.ofcom.org.uk/tv/ifi/codes/legacy/rules_amount_scheduling_adv/]Article 5.6 of the OFCOM Rules on Advertising[/url], UK terrestrial channels cannot space adverts less than 20 minutes apart. ITV already pushes this rule as far as it can in build-up and analysis, so any adverts removed are pure lost revenue for it. Such a change would most likely trigger a cancellation of the contract on financial grounds, and since the government would have been responsible, an attempt to place the costs of losing the contract onto the taxpayer is very likely.

    Ads in the F1 coverage are annoying, especially when they are badly-timed. However, it is a fairer compromise than the prospect of losing all the races from terrestrial TV (apart from the Italian GP, thanks to the EU Listed Event rules) and having people not remotely interested in F1 footing a large part of the bill through their general taxes.

  7. Robert McKay
    13th May 2007, 18:49

    “I disagree with Doctorvee and Robert McKay when they say I’ve missed the point. With respect, I don’t think I have.”

    Maybe, but you’ve still missed MY point. I say again, even if ITV could cluster the ads pre/post race, why would it want to? You may well be right in saying that they are allowed to. But the slots pre/post race MAKE LESS MONEY. And ITV needs a lot of money, because as far as I know ITV pays Bernie the second highest amount of any broadcaster to show Formula 1. Of course we don’t want to see the ads. But one has to accept that if Bernie is going to charge large amounts of money for the rights, then ITV have to make that money somehow, plus more to justify showing it in the first place.

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