Goldsmith calls for more broadcasts in row with TV bosses

Sir James Goldsmith is embroiled in a row with TV chiefs over the number of party political broadcasts his Referendum Party should be granted during the general election campaign.

Sir James Goldsmith is embroiled in a row with TV chiefs over the

number of party political broadcasts his Referendum Party should be

granted during the general election campaign.



Goldsmith is threatening High Court action against the broadcasters

unless they allocate him two party election slots. After a previous

threat, he was given one broadcast, but he has doubled his demand

following the defection to his party last week of Sir George Gardiner,

the Tory MP, which Goldsmith claims gives him minority party status at

Westminster.



During the campaign, the Tories and Labour will have five broadcasts

each and the Liberal Democrats four, shown on the BBC and ITV. Parties

contesting at least 50 seats will get one slot on the BBC only. They are

expected to include the Referendum Party, the UK Independence Party, the

Greens, Arthur Scargill’s Socialist Labour Party, the Pro-Life Alliance

and the Natural Law Party.



But a spokesman for Goldsmith said this week his party would challenge

such an allocation and would be seeking membership of the Committee on

Party Political Broadcasting, which includes TV chiefs and party

officials.



’We are not satisfied with the suggestion we would only get one party

election broadcast,’ he said. ’We will make sure we get a number that

takes account of the fact we are putting up 11 times more candidates

than it takes to get one broadcast. We will do whatever we need to get

fair treatment.’



Goldsmith, who has reportedly set aside pounds 20 million for his

campaign, has already launched a poster, press and cinema campaign

through Banks Hoggins O’Shea. Rival parties have dismissed the ads as

ineffective, but Goldsmith’s officials point to opinion polls suggesting

40 per cent of the public approved of its ’why not, John?’ ad, asking

John Major why he opposed a referendum on Britain’s future in Europe.



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