A review of the system of party election broadcasts is to be
carried out in the wake of last week’s general election.
Broadcasters and party officials believe the 70-year-old system is out
of date and must be overhauled. The options for change include allowing
political parties to buy airtime up to limits laid down by law and
scrapping the rule which grants one five-minute broadcast to any party
contesting at least 50 seats.
Broadcasters are worried that the 50-seat rule encourages fringe parties
to contest elections just to get the exposure of a broadcast. In the
1997 campaign, slots were given to the Referendum Party, the Natural Law
Party, the Greens, Authur Scargill’s Socialist Labour Party, the UK
Independence Party, the British National Party, the Pro-Life Alliance
and the Liberal Party (which is separate from the Liberal
The BBC will oppose any switch to party political commercials.