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Wednesday, 28 February, 2001, 17:58 GMT
Party election broadcasts

Unlike countries such as the United States, parties and candidates in the United Kingdom are forbidden to buy advertising time on television or radio.

Instead, parties are allocated party election broadcasts (PEBs) throughout the campaign period.

The number of broadcasts allowed to a party depends on two factors - the number of candidates it fields in the election and its share of the vote in the previous election.

In the 1997 election, for example, the Conservative, Labour, Lib Dem allocations were respectively 5 : 5 : 4.


Political parties decide the content of their broadcasts
The Referendum Party also fielded enough candidates to justify a broadcast.

Guidelines

The Scottish National Party and Plaid Cymru were allocated broadcasts on Scottish and Welsh television respectively.

All the main parties were also allocated radio broadcasts.

The production and content of party election broadcasts rests entirely with the parties themselves though they are required to observe certain guidelines.

The ground rules laid down by the BBC and the Independent Telvision Commission, include obligations to observe the law, for example on libel, incitement to racial hatred and violence and to the broadcasters' own guidelines on taste and decency.

On radio, the Radio Authority's code of practice is observed.

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