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Communications Act 2003

Section 320: Special impartiality requirements

677.The standards objectives referred to in section 319 include the objective that the impartiality requirements set out in this section are observed. This section specifies particular requirements, some of which are to be further expanded upon by rules in OFCOM’s standards code, placed upon service providers to ensure that programme services are free from undue bias. The matters to which the requirements apply are matters of political or industrial controversy, and matters relating to current public policy. The requirements are:

  • the service provider must not air its own views on such matters (unless they concern the provision of television or radio programme services); as in the 1990 Act, this restriction does not apply to providers of radio restricted services.

  • as regards every television programme service, teletext service, national radio service and national digital sound programme service, the service provider must preserve due impartiality about such matters. The relevant rules in OFCOM’s standards code must particularly take account of the need to preserve impartiality for major matters of political or industrial controversy or relating to current public policy. Fulfilment of this requirement need not necessarily be measured programme by programme, but on balance over all programmes included in the relevant service; and

  • as regards local radio services, local digital sound programme services, and radio licensable content services, the service provider must ensure that undue prominence is not given to any particular viewpoint about such matters. This need be satisfied only by considering the entire service, rather than programme by programme, or even series by series.

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