The Polish media regulator KRRiT is currently considering changing the regulation of political advertising. KRRiT’s investigation follows a request made by public broadcaster Telewizja Polska (TVP) to shift the slots it is compelled to make available for political advertising from its flagship channels TVP1 and TVP2 to its news channel TVP Info.
Current legislation for political advertising states that during the election period:
- TVP is to air 360 minutes of electoral advertising daily in both TVP1 and TVP2
- Political advertising is to appear in advertising slots no shorter than 10 minutes
- Political advertising must be placed on TVP 1 between 6am-10am and 4pm to 11pm and on TVP2 between 6am-9am, and 2:30pm to 5:45pm. In addition, the internationally-available channel TVP Polonia is to broadcast 180 minutes of political content daily
- The regional channels of TVP (TVP Regionalna) are to broadcast 600 minutes of political content daily (prior to TVP Regionalna’s launch in September 2013, this was placed on TVP Info)
- TVP has to provide all inventory reserved for political ads free of charge.
TVP justifies the move to TVP Info with the channel’s national reach and its 24-hours daily broadcasting time. The broadcaster adds that it intends to broadcast debates, educational programmes and pro-voting campaigns in lieu of some of these political spots. TVP’s proposal follows a draft of the new media law in Poland, known also as ‘Ustawa Medialna’, which aims to abolish the TV licence - one of the key revenue sources of TVP. Although the new legislation is still in the planning phase and unlikely to take effect even in 2015, it will also likely tighten advertising regulation on public TV. This will put TVP in a double squeeze.
The current law on political advertising imposes an opportunity cost on the public broadcaster. Instead of generating TV NAR from prime-time advertising, TVP is obliged to air free political broadcasting. Historically, this meant that TVP significantly underperformed the market and its main competitors – commercial broadcasters TVN Group and Cyfrowy Polsat. Recently the performance of TVP has been further impacted by the analogue switch-off and wider accessibility of thematic channels. IHS estimates that TVP’s market shares will halve from 42.2% in 2004 to 21.0% in 2015.
In the wake of tightened regulation, TVP needs to look for any possible loopholes to shore up its revenues. The issue around political advertising represents such an opportunity and we believe that this is the real reason behind TVP’s proposal.