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126 viewers complain over ITV F1 ad break

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126 viewers complain over ITV F1 ad break
ITV has been criticised by Ofcom over a decision to take an advertising break towards the end of the San Marino Grand Prix in April.

The ill-timed break of two minutes and thirty seconds came as the race entered its closing moments, finishing as the final lap started.

126 viewers complained about ITV's coverage of the race, most of which were concerned that advertising had taken precedence over important live coverage. Many viewers suggested that the break should have been moved either to an earlier point in the race or to the post-race programme. Some likened the final ad break to "cutting to advertising during a penalty shoot out," Ofcom said. Other viewers called for coverage to be returned to the BBC, noting that ITV again cut to ads after the race finished leading to an "impression that the advertising was taking precedence over programme integrity/quality," adding that a replay of the missing laps - in which Schumacher was engaged in close contest with Alonso - was "inadequate."

Ofcom ruled that the final ad break was in breach of section 6.7 of the Rules on the Amount and Scheduling of Advertising. 6.7 states that ad breaks during live sports coverage may only be taken "at points where the focus of coverage shifts from one point to another of the event."

While ITV accepted that the break was in breach, it said that the analogy between the closing moments of the Grand Prix and a penalty shoot-out "did not stand in terms of how breaks interrupted the Formula 1 coverage." The network's explanation:

"The focus during a football match lay with the ball which was the same for the actual spectators at a match. In motor racing, spectators only saw brief glimpses of the action from static positions, whereas the television coverage shows many points of action and follows many different focus points showing, where possible, the most interesting and exciting action. This meant that coverage was switched from one action point to another and any exciting action not seen by viewers, whether due to the taking of a commercial break or from events of interest occurring at the same time, were always replayed as soon as practical."

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