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free-to-air programming 

Number of commercials classified as Australian and foreign, 1998–2008

The total number of new and revised television commercials, whether Australian or foreign, cleared by CAD1 increased yearly between 1998 and 2005. In 2006, it fell for the first time following two consecutive decreases in the number of Australian commercials. Since then, there has been significant growth in the number of Australian commercials, up by 68 per cent. This rise is even more pronounced when considering only new Australian advertisements, which have almost tripled in number since 2006. Both Australian figures and the overall totals are now at their highest point on record.

The proportion of foreign commercials has fallen over the same two-year period and, in the case of new commercials, is now at an all-time low.

  Number of new and revised commercials2
1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008
Total 43,406 44,496 45,658 47,546 53,403 55,288 60,244 60,395 58,888 66,793 93,012
Foreign as per cent of total 3.9% 3.3% 3.7% 2.7% 2.5% 2.9% 3.0% 4.7% 5.1% 4.5% 3.3%
Aust. 36,609 38,365 38,886 41,498 46,846 47,948 52,500 51,924 50,488 58,116 84,924
Foreign 1,693 1,459 1,687 1,276 1,356 1,592 1,809 2,827 3,048 3,016 3,052
Exempt3 5,104 4,672 5,085 4,699 5,201 5,748 5,935 5,644 5,352 5,661 5,036
  Number of new commercials
1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008
Total 13,238 13,213 14,160 14,177 14,854 15,716 15,258 14,596 19,030 38,336
Foreign as per cent of total 5.0% 5.1% 4.1% 4.6% 4.5% 4.9% 6.5% 7.4% 6.2% 3.2%
Aust. 12,578 12,538 13,579 13,521 14,186 14,942 14,273 13,521 17,841 37,112
Foreign 600 675 581 656 668 774 985 1,075 1,189 1,224

Source: Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).

Notes:
1. Most television commercials are classified as Australian or foreign by Commercials Advice Pty Limited, a company that is wholly owned by Free TV Australia. Formerly the Commercial Acceptance Division of the Federation of Australian Commercial Television Stations (FACTS), it is still commonly known as CAD. CAD provides classification and information services to advertisers, agencies and production houses in relation to television commercials. This information assists the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), formerly the Australian Broadcasting Authority (ABA), in monitoring the Australian content of advertising on television. Content is regulated under the Commercial Television Industry Code of Practice, developed by Free TV Australia and registered with the ACMA.

The regulations – setting limits of 80 per cent Australian, 20 per cent foreign content – are based on the amount of time television commercials are shown, whereas figures here are for the number of commercials classified. While foreign commercials make up 3–4 per cent of the total number of classified commercials, they take up an average of 12.5 per cent of advertising time. The Productivity Commission Report into Broadcasting, released in 2000, cited possible reasons for this, such as foreign commercials are longer than local ones or they are shown more often.

2. The figures include both new and revised commercials (those with minor changes), as well as commercials resubmitted because they were over two years old.

3. Advertisements for imported cinema films, videos, recordings, live appearances by overseas entertainers and community service announcements are exempt from the standard.

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