I am reading with interest the debate in France about “liberalizing” the rules around advertising on television. Both the advertisers (behind the Union des Anonceurs) and Patrick de Carolis (President of France Televisions) have asked to relax the “out of date” rules that, among other consequences, have caused TV media prices to climb 10% per year because of a lack of supply which, in turn, has caused pent up demand. And this, despite the arrival of new stations, such as via TNT.

If, for example, regular programs (including sports coverage) are permitted to have one more commercial break per hour, the ad minutes/hour could go back up from 8 to 12 (to recall the context that the Trautmann Law of 2000 cut the minutes in France from 12 to 8 – See Acrimed writeup in French). The magazines are complaining, but it feels more like two losers squabbling. (To qualify my comment, I refer to Google’s ever growing $9B in ad dollars, the groundwork of DoubleClick ($3B) and the open territory offered on YouTube).

The real question, to refer to Joe Jaffe’s premise (Life after the 30 second spot), is what content will advertisers be providing to warrant keeping hold of the viewers on television. With 1.5 hours more of advertising air time per day, will the content improve sufficiently to compete with the 1.5 hours less of TV programming… that, in turn, must seek greater content to compete with alternative objects of desire (Internet, video games, etc.)?

A debate to be followed.

Source: Figaro article “Coupure Publicité: la pression monte”. See Orange writeup.

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