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Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000

Section 127 : Referendum campaign broadcasts

223.Section 127 requires that broadcasters may only include a referendum campaign broadcast in their broadcast services if it is made on behalf of an organisation designated by the Electoral Commission under the provisions of section 108. This requirement (taken with that on broadcasters’ existing duty of impartiality) is intended to ensure that, in any referendum, each side of the campaign will have equal access to free airtime for referendum broadcasts. The two umbrella bodies in the 1975 referendum were each awarded free airtime for four ten-minute television broadcasts and three ten-minute and two five-minute radio broadcasts. Attempts to provide referendum broadcasts in the 1979 devolution referendums foundered following the decision of the Scottish courts in the case of Wilson v Independent Broadcasting Authority which held that the IBA, in deciding to allocate a broadcast to each of the four Scottish parliamentary political parties (which divided three to one in favour of devolution) had acted in breach of its statutory duty to ensure that programmes broadcast on the subject of the referendum maintained a proper balance.

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