Party Political Broadcasts: Ofcom proposes some tweaks to the rules

You have until 25 November to give Ofcom your views of their proposed amendments to the rules governing Party Political Broadcasts. Ofcom’s rules apply to the commercial outlets that run PPBs – Channels 3, 4 and Five, Classic FM, talkSPORT and Absolute AM. (The BBC and S4C have their own rules.)

Aside from some tidying up and clearer processes, the changes proposed look sensible and are:

  • to provide that the number of PEBs allocated to major parties and other registered parties should be determined having regard to the circumstances of a particular election, the nation in which it is held, and the individual party’s past and/or current electoral support in that nation; this addition reflects recent established practice by Licensees (rules 12 and 14)
  • to include specific guidance for the minimum qualifying requirements for other registered parties in proportional representation systems of election, as the current PPRB Rules simply state that the criteria should be “modified as appropriate for proportional representation systems” (rule 13);
  • to provide for greater flexibility, so that registered parties other than designated major parties may qualify for a series of broadcasts, and peak-time scheduling, if evidence of their electoral support at a particular election or in a relevant area means it would be appropriate to do so; this change acknowledges that different parties may have differing strengths at different kinds of elections (rule 14);
  • to treat designated referendum organisations as “major parties” for allocation and scheduling purposes i.e. they should be allocated a series of broadcasts, before a referendum; this is to reflect the Electoral Commission’s views that the PPRB Rules should make clear that the designated referendum organisations should receive a “series” of broadcasts (as opposed to “one or more” as currently specified in the PPRB Rules) (rule 19).

Further details are on the Ofcom site.

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