Swisscom responds to new ‘no ad-skipping’ rules for catch-up TV

From October 4, Swiss TV customers will no longer have the option to automatically skip adverts on some channels distributed by Swisscom and other distributors.

The move comes as the result of a new industry agreement and legal framework for catch-up or replay TV in the country.

Swisscom is responding by launching a new Replay Comfort option costing CHF6.90 per month, allowing customers to skip commercials from a button on their remote and dispensing with the new start and pause adverts that will be available to others.

Under the new rules, viewers can no longer skip adverts on Replay TV on some channels. In addition, there will a seven-second commercial at the start of every Replay programme.

Swisscom rival Sunrise UPC has also announced similar measures in order to continue to provide catch-up functionality.

The agreement has been described as a compromise allowing providers to continue to offer the Replay TV function. In addition, TV providers need to pay a higher fee for Replay TV rights.

According to Swisscom, around 20 German and Swiss private TV channels are planning to roll out the new advertising options, although few French and Italian-language channels currently intend to do so.

People will still be able to skip the vast majority of adverts but channels can now stop viewers from skipping up to four minutes of ads per broadcast hour, up to a maximum of 130 seconds per commercial break.

Swisscom said it would continue to provide ad-free series, feature films and children’s programmes on demand from the free blue Play media library.

For catch-up, the operator Replay Comfrot option enables viewers to avoid adverts at the start of the Replay programme or when the pause button is pressed.

However, in the future, customers with 30 hours of Replay as part of their subscription will not be able to skip the commercials during Replay programmes, as the new agreement no longer provides for a corresponding billing plan. Swisscom will notify affected customers of this change in good time.

Current copyright law requires all TV providers to recompense channels for any time-delayed viewing of their content. The tariff for this is agreed between the user associations (Suissedigital and Swissstream) and various copyright collecting societies (ProLitteris, SSA Société Suisse des Auteurs, SUISA, Suissimage and Swissperform). In June 2020, the collecting societies and the user associations agreed a higher tariff (joint tariff 12) that regulates time-delayed viewing.

As a result Swiss viewers will be exposed to some new formats: start-ads, a seven-second short ad at the start of a programme being watched on time-delayed TV; FFW Ads (fast forward): an advert shown if a linear commercial break is skipped during time-delayed viewing; and Pause Ads: a static advert after the pause button is pressed during live or time-delayed viewing.

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