A wholesale review of the system of party political broadcasts is
to be launched, in which Labour will call for them to be cut to
The Electoral Commission, which supervises the conduct and the funding
of elections, is expected to agree to a request by Labour to consider
"modernising" the broadcasts, which the party re-gards as outdated in
today's media world.
Labour leaders hope the Commission's review will break the BBC's
stranglehold over reform of the system. Previous attempts have been
scuppered by the BBC's opposition to taking advertising.
Labour wants the broadcasts to reach new audiences by moving from their
traditional slot next to news bulletins, and wants them to run on more
channels, such as Sky Sports.
It wants the current format of about two-minutes, 40-second films
replaced by 30-second commercials to flag up new half hour programmes
outside peak viewing times in which the parties would outline their
policies in more detail.
Labour wants to tone down the "health warnings" at the start of party
broadcasts, describing them as "a message to please turn your telly
Amid growing concern at the drop in turnout to 60 per cent at the
election, Labour will argue that changing the system could help to
enthuse the voters.
"Party political broadcasts should be about engaging people," Steve
Bates, Labour's chief press and broadcasting officer, said. "They have
become outmoded and outdated and a hackneyed format. We need a more
Labour will oppose the introduction of US-style paid-for political
advertising, saying that new legal limits on election spending would not
leave the parties enough money for it. The party will argue that the
BBC's opposition to commercials has been undermined by the "promos" for
its own programmes.