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Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000

Section 11 : Broadcasters to have regard to Commission’s views on party political broadcasts

53.Section 11 provides that the Commission’s broad oversight of the way elections are conducted should extend to providing guidance on party political broadcasts. At present, sections 36 and 107 of the Broadcasting Act 1990 provide for the Independent Television Commission and the Radio Authority to draw up conditions requiring a licence holder both to include party political broadcasts in its services and to observe any rules in relation to party political broadcasts which the Commission or Authority may determine. The Independent Television Commission and the Radio Authority may determine the political parties on whose behalf party political broadcasts may be made and the length and frequency of such broadcasts. The British Broadcasting Corporation and Sianel Pedwar Cymru are not subject to any similar statutory requirement, but nonetheless provide air time for party political broadcasts as part of their role as public service broadcasters.

54.The Neill Committee suggested that, while it should not be for the government to direct that broadcasters provide party political broadcasts, there could be a role for the Electoral Commission in putting forward non-binding views in relation to, for example, the scheduling of broadcasts. Section 11 requires the Independent Television Commission and the Radio Authority, in determining the rules provided for under sections 36 and 107 of the Broadcasting Act 1990, to have regard to the views of the Electoral Commission. Subsection (3) would place the British Broadcasting Corporation and Sianel Pedwar Cymru, in determining their policy with respect to party political broadcasts, under a similar duty. It is not intended that these provisions should give the Commission a prescriptive role in relation to editorial and broadcasting decisions, which are properly a matter for the broadcasters themselves, nor is it intended that broadcasters should be required to seek the views of the Commission before deciding whether to transmit each and every party political broadcast.

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