Tories back Labour over 30-second PPBs

- The Conservatives have added their weight to calls for party political broadcasts to be replaced by 30-second commercials.

- The Conservatives have added their weight to calls for party political broadcasts to be replaced by 30-second commercials.

In a surprise move, the Tories have backed Labour's attempts to persuade television bosses to scrap the traditional five-minute PPBs, in favour of shorter ads shown at various times during an evening.

"There is a strong case for 30-second slots," said a Tory source. "It's only a matter of time before we get them."

The Tory move will increase the pressure on BBC chiefs, who lead the broadcasters in talks with the politicians and fear that 30-second commercials would weaken their campaign to prevent ads on the BBC.

Both Labour and Tory officials believe the BBC will back commercials if an "outsider" such as Greg Dyke or Andrew Neil is appointed to succeed Sir John Birt as director general. But they fear that an internal BBC candidate would maintain the corporation's opposition.

The two main parties showed their determination to modernize their broadcasts this week when they unveiled their campaigns for next month's elections to the European Parliament.

Labour re-ran a film made up of five consecutive 30-second slots, first shown last month, adding a shot of Tony Blair receiving the Charlemagne prize for being a good European.

The Tories' broadcast, which ran to only two minutes 40 seconds, showed "Chris and Debbie," the fictional couple who made their debut last month, discussing Europe in their bedroom.

Tory officials hailed the film as one of their best for years. It was made by their volunteer Conservative Creative Forum, whose members include WCRS chairman, Robin Wight.





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