Ofcom has a statutory duty to set rules for a minimum allocation of short party election broadcasts.
There is a long-standing ban on political advertising on television and radio in the UK. Instead, free airtime is provided in the form of party election broadcasts, up to four minutes and 40 seconds in duration, which allow qualifying parties an opportunity to communicate directly with the electorate.
Based on evidence of public support, Ofcom advises which political parties should be offered a minimum of two party election broadcasts on each of the relevant channels. Ofcom is describing these parties as ‘larger parties’, formerly referred to as ‘major parties’.
For the May 2016 elections, party election broadcasts will appear on ITV, ITV Wales, STV, UTV and relevant local TV providers. Ofcom’s rules cover the minimum allocation of these broadcasts.
Broadcasters are free to offer additional party election broadcasts, beyond the minimum required by Ofcom. In previous elections, broadcasters have offered more election broadcasts than this minimum1.
By way of illustration, the table below shows the number of party election broadcasts shown on ITV, STV and UTV ahead of the 2015 General Election, alongside the minimum number of party election broadcasts required by Ofcom’s rules (shown in brackets).
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