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.