ITV under fire for “cramming” ads into Downton Abbey episodes

by Lynn Connolly

ITV bosses have come under fire from viewers who claim the broadcaster is “cramming” the show with an inordinate number of adverts.

The Daily Mirror states, “Sunday’s episode was watched by 9.6million people. But more than 20 minutes of its 9pm to 10.15pm slot was filled with ads, leaving 54 minutes of drama.”

One Downton fan posted on an ITV chat forum, “ITV please stop so many adverts during Downton Abbey. You are spoiling the best show on telly.”

Another added, “Adverts totally ruined Downton Abbey for a 2nd week running. BBC1 next week.”

However, ITV have defended the large volume of commercials that air during the show, saying the cash generated from them allows the station to continue to produce quality programmes.

Yesterday, a spokesman said, “We’re delighted Downton Abbey continued to increase its audience with 9.6 million viewers enjoying the drama last night…

“ITV is a commercial broadcaster and advertising allows us to invest in a range of popular programming enjoyed free by viewers.

“Advertising within the programme complied with Ofcom’s code on the scheduling of television ads.”

Sunday’s second episode of Downton series two had a rate of one minute of ads to less than three minutes of programme.

And it seems many viewers were angered that advertising for Aviva insurance dominated the commercial breaks. As viewers will know, the adverts portray the story of a man who was knocked off his motorbike and suffered severe injuries.

However, Head of Brand at the insurance company, Sue Helmont said, “We gave great consideration to the subject matter before we launched this campaign and we are reviewing with interest all comments about it.

“The stories were chosen to show how the lives of people can suddenly take a dramatic turn, but that financial support can help.”

Ofcom confirmed complaints had been received about the Aviva ads, but insisted ITV had not breached rules on quantity, because quotas are averaged across a full day.

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Lynn is an editor and writer here at Unreality TV and is trained psychotherapist and the author of two books. She's addicted to soaps, period drama and reality TV shows such as X Factor, I'm A Celeb and Big Brother.