Shake-up of PPB rules will allow slots to resemble ads

Political parties will be able to run three-minute TV broadcasts under proposals issued by broadcasters this week.

Political parties will be able to run three-minute TV broadcasts

under proposals issued by broadcasters this week.

The move to make PPBs more like commercials is part of a wide-ranging

shake-up of the 70-year-old system demanded by television bosses and

first revealed in Campaign (5 December 1997).

Broadcasters have bowed to pressure from ad agencies and the Labour

Party for slots shorter than the traditional five minutes. In the

future, parties will be able to run three- or four-minute films.

However, the Independent Television Commission and the BBC have rejected

Labour’s call for parties to have more broadcasts if they run shorter

PPBs. ’We don’t think we should take less total airtime if we opt for

smaller slots,’ a Labour source said.

Labour said it was ’deeply alarmed’ at the proposals, which would scrap

the five PPBs a year currently granted to Labour and the Conservatives

and restrict broadcasts to general, local and European election


Labour said the blueprint would ’diminish democracy’, result in

six-month gaps between PPBs and adversely affect minority parties by

restricting broadcasts to those fighting at least 110 parliamentary


But Labour’s hopes of forming an all-party alliance to block the plans

were dashed when the Tories described them as ’sensible’. This means the

changes are likely to go ahead in some form, although they may be

modified after consultation.


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