Labour calls review to modernise party political broadcasts

A wholesale review of the system of party political broadcasts is

to be launched, in which Labour will call for them to be cut to

30-second spots.

The Electoral Commission, which supervises the conduct and the funding

of elections, is expected to agree to a request by Labour to consider

"modernising" the broadcasts, which the party re-gards as outdated in

today's media world.

Labour leaders hope the Commission's review will break the BBC's

stranglehold over reform of the system. Previous attempts have been

scuppered by the BBC's opposition to taking advertising.

Labour wants the broadcasts to reach new audiences by moving from their

traditional slot next to news bulletins, and wants them to run on more

channels, such as Sky Sports.

It wants the current format of about two-minutes, 40-second films

replaced by 30-second commercials to flag up new half hour programmes

outside peak viewing times in which the parties would outline their

policies in more detail.

Labour wants to tone down the "health warnings" at the start of party

broadcasts, describing them as "a message to please turn your telly


Amid growing concern at the drop in turnout to 60 per cent at the

election, Labour will argue that changing the system could help to

enthuse the voters.

"Party political broadcasts should be about engaging people," Steve

Bates, Labour's chief press and broadcasting officer, said. "They have

become outmoded and outdated and a hackneyed format. We need a more

flexible system."

Labour will oppose the introduction of US-style paid-for political

advertising, saying that new legal limits on election spending would not

leave the parties enough money for it. The party will argue that the

BBC's opposition to commercials has been undermined by the "promos" for

its own programmes.