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Last Updated: Monday, 5 February 2007, 13:50 GMT
Ad ban plan 'threatens TV shows'
ITV newsreaders Mark Austin and Mary Nightingale
ITV's evening news bulletins could be affected by the rules
TV news and children's programmes on commercial channels could be threatened by a plan to ban adverts in some shows, a House of Lords report has warned.

The European Union has proposed getting rid of ad breaks in all children's and news shows lasting 30 minutes or less.

The House of Lords European Union Committee said it was "concerned about the likely implications of these rules for free-to-air programming".

Commercial broadcasters ITV and Five have said their output will suffer.

"The economics of children's programming are fairly fragile already," said Martin Stott, Five's deputy head of corporate affairs, when giving evidence in October.

The application of a no-ads rule, he continued, would mean the channel would produce fewer original children's shows and have to rely on "cheaper imports".

'A very strange thing'

The impact on news broadcasting, said ITV's controller of regulatory affairs Magnus Brooke, would be no less grave.

The rules, he said, would "penalise the provision of core public service content and make it much harder to generate any revenue at all from providing that content".

The proposed rules, contained within the EU's Audiovisual Media Services Directive, says children's programming and news programmes should be interrupted only once every half hour "provided that such programmes exceed 30 minutes to begin with".

Because news and children's programmes typically tend to be 30 minutes long, said Mr Stott, "it would be impossible to have a commercial break".

Mr Brooke described the directive - which would affect all of ITV's main news bulletins - as a "very strange thing".

"There has been a centre break in the 10 o'clock news since 1967, with no obvious viewer detriment or complaint," he said.

MEPs narrowly voted in favour of the amendment in December 2006 by 324 to 323.

If the directive is approved by the EU, the UK will have three years to bring it into effect.

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