- The Labour Party has warned that Britain could be heading for an American style explosion of political advertising on television and radio. Labour has pledged to oppose such a move , but has warned that this could be the end result if broadcasters press ahead with their plans to scrap political broadcasts by restricting them to election times.
Labour chiefs have written to Sir Patrick Neill, who is heading an investigation into party funding, in an attempt to enlist his support for PPBs to be retained in their present form.
The case for ending the ban on political ads on TV and radio, Labour says, "would be stronger if there was no provision made for party political and party election broadcasts."
A Labour source said: "We do not want paid-for advertising. But we are saying that we will be on a slippery slope towards it if we end PPBs"
Labour told Neill it was "deeply disturbed" by the proposed shake up of PPBs which, it said, would deny parties access to the most important instrument of communication in modern society.
The party called for more flexible PPBs, lasting less then the current five minutes, which could be shown at weekends, and said all broadcasters - including satellite, cable and digital operators - should be forced to carry them.
The Tories have hinted they are more open-minded than Labour about TV advertising. "It is an oddity to our system, albeit a welcome one, that paid-for political advertising on television and radio is banned," the Tories told Neill. "We do not, therefore seek to make the case for lifting the restriction, although we will be interested to hear the arguments."