The move is part of a shake-up of broadcasting rules being undertaken by regulator Ofcom. It is designed to help broadcasters hit by a fragmentation in the TV ad market, caused by a proliferation of digital channels.
The regulator had previously insisted terrestrial broadcasters sell all of their advertising minutes – totalling seven minutes for every hour of programming – to prevent artificial price inflation. Dropping this requirement would bring ITV into line with rival commercial broadcasters.
Ofcom chief executive Ed Richards said: “In the last few years the TV sector has moved on with substantial increases in the take-up of digital services and in the number of available channels. We are proposing that these rules be removed in light of broader developments in the sector.”
An ITV spokesman said: “ITV welcomes the start of Ofcom’s review of the advertising sales and scheduling rules and its recognition that further deregulation may be necessary given the changes in the TV sector.”
However, industry sources are sceptical a change would have any real impact on the industry as broadcasters will continue to maximise advertising sales by using their full quota. ITV eased back to close up 3.2 per cent at 61p.