The number and length of party political broadcasts (PPBs) would be
cut under proposals submitted to the political parties by the BBC and
The broadcasters want to move PPBs from their slots around the evening
news bulletins to off-peak hours and scrap the extra broadcasts allowed
after the Budget and before local council elections.
Under the plans, the party election broadcasts in the run-up to a
general election could also disappear - costing Labour and the Tories,
who currently have five slots, an estimated pounds 5 million of free
airtime each. Instead, parties could use some of their annual allocation
of PPBs in the run-up to the polling day.
The maximum length of PPBs, now ten minutes, would be cut to five,
ruling out the detailed portraits of party leaders seen at recent
The broadcasters are also prepared to consider the plan floated by
Labour in the last Parliament for two-minute slots, which would make
PPBs much more like commercials.
The political parties, which will begin talks with BBC and ITV chiefs in
the next few weeks, are expected to oppose some of the planned
They are unlikely to agree to the idea of losing their prime-time
The allocation of pre-election broadcasts will also be discussed. There
will be moves to stop pressure groups such as the anti-abortion Pro Life
Alliance winning a slot if they contest 50 Parliamentary seats, as
allowed under the present rules.