The Election Committee (“the Committee”) is delegated authority from the Ofcom Board to:
The Committee comprises up to five members. The Chairman of the Election Committee is appointed by the Ofcom Board. The current Chairman is Tim Suter. Other members of the Committee are drawn from the Content Board and/or Ofcom colleagues as determined by the Chair of the Committee (subject to the quorum requirements).
1. Section 333 of the Communications Act 2003 (“the Act”) requires Ofcom to ensure that Party Political Broadcasts (“PPBs”) (including Party Election Broadcasts (“PEBs”)) and Referendum Campaign Broadcasts (“RCBs”) on behalf of registered political parties and designated referendum organisations are included in every licensed public service television channel (regional Channel 3, Channel 4, Channel 5), every local digital television programme service, and every national (i.e. UK-wide, commercial) analogue radio service, and their digital simulcast services (Classic FM, Talksport and Absolute Radio AM)(“the Licensees”).
2. The BBC Agreement requires Ofcom to ensure that PPBs and RCBs are included in such of the BBC’s UK Public Services as Ofcom consider appropriate. These rules also apply to the following BBC services in accordance with the BBC Agreement: BBC One; BBC Two; BBC Radio Two; BBC Radio Four; BBC London Radio; BBC Radio Scotland; BBC Radio Nan Gaidheal; BBC ALBA; BBC Radio Wales; BBC Radio Cymru; BBC Radio Foyle; and BBC Radio Ulster (“the BBC Services”).
3. This document contains the Rules which Ofcom has made in accordance with section 333 of the Act and the BBC Agreement. The Rules reflect minimum requirements which Licensees and BBC Services (“the Relevant Services”) are required to follow in determining the length, frequency, allocation and/or scheduling of party political or referendum campaign broadcasts. They are not intended to fetter the discretion of Relevant Services to exceed these minimum requirements.
4. Within the terms of these Rules, decisions as to the precise length, frequency, allocation and/or scheduling of broadcasts offered to political parties/designated organisations are the responsibility of Relevant Services in the first place. When Relevant Services make such decisions, they should notify the relevant political party/designated organisation promptly in writing, setting out the basis of the relevant decision, and enabling that party/organisation to make further representations to the Relevant Service if they choose to dispute any part of the decision.
5. If any dispute remains unresolved between any Relevant Service and any political party/designated organisation, as to the length, frequency, allocation and/or scheduling of broadcasts it may be referred by the party/designated organisation or the Relevant Service to Ofcom for determination under these Rules. For this purpose, Relevant Services and political parties/designated organisations should follow Ofcom’s Procedures on the referral and determination of disputes under these Rules.
6. Section Six of Ofcom’s Broadcasting Code (“the Code”) provides that broadcasts under these Rules are required to comply with the relevant provisions of the Code (for example, the provisions regarding harm and offence) notwithstanding that the content of broadcasts is normally the responsibility of the relevant political parties (or designated referendum organisations). Licensees should apply these Rules in accordance with relevant provisions of the Code.
7. Relevant Services are advised to issue guidance on the acceptability of content and technical matters. Broadcasters are advised to seek legal indemnities from parties against defamation, copyright and similar legal risks. Any use of Parliamentary footage should abide by Parliament’s rules on such use.
8. General election broadcasts will be carried by all of the Relevant Services named above (except local digital television programme service licensees, BBC Two, BBC Radio Two, BBC Radio Four, BBC Radio London and BBC ALBA). Broadcasts for European Parliamentary elections will be carried by regional Channel 3 services, Channel 5, and BBC One.
9. RCBs will be carried by all of the Licensees named above (except local digital television programme service licensees) and BBC One, BBC Two, BBC Radio Two, BBC Radio Four in the case of a UK referendum. RCBs will be carried by the relevant regional Channel 3 licensee, BBC One, and by BBC Radio Scotland, BBC Radio Nan Gaidheal, BBC ALBA, BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru, BBC Radio Foyle and BBC Radio Ulster as relevant in the case of nations/regions referendums.
10. The regional Channel 3 licensee and BBC One will additionally carry: local election broadcasts in those UK nations/regions where such elections are taking place; broadcasts in the relevant nations/regions for Scottish Parliament, Welsh Assembly, Northern Ireland Assembly elections; and broadcasts for the elections for the London Assembly and Mayor of London. The regional Channel 3 licensee and BBC One will carry PPBs in each nation of the United Kingdom on a seasonal basis (as set out in Rule 21).
11. BBC One, BBC Radio Scotland, BBC Radio Nan Gaidheal, BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru, BBC Radio Foyle and BBC Radio Ulster will carry broadcasts in the relevant nations/regions for Scottish Parliament, Welsh Assembly and Northern Ireland Assembly elections.
12. Local digital television programme service licensees will carry: local election broadcasts in those UK nations/regions where such elections are taking place. The local digital television programme service licensee for London and BBC Radio London will also carry broadcasts for the elections for the London Assembly and Mayor of London.
13. PEBs and PPBs may only be allocated to political parties registered by the Electoral Commission. RCBs may only be allocated to organisations as designated by the Electoral Commission.
14. Before a General Election, and in the case of other elections where appropriate, each registered party should be offered (subject to Rules 15 and 16) one or more PEBs, the length of a series offered to a particular party being determined by the Relevant Service. In addition, Channel 4 and Channel 5 must each offer one or more PEBs to the SNP and Plaid Cymru. In every case, the number of PEBs should be determined having regard to the circumstances of a particular election, the nation in which it is held, and the individual party’s past electoral support and/or current support in that nation (see Rule 16).
15. Registered parties should qualify for a PEB if they are contesting one sixth or more of the seats up for election in the case of first-past-the-post, multi-constituency elections such as a General Election. For proportional representation systems of election (such as the European Parliamentary Elections), the minimum qualifying requirement for the allocation of one PEB should be set, reasonably and fairly for each election, according to criteria which have regard to the particular system of voting, the number of seats available for election, the number of constituencies/regions, and the number of candidates nominated by the party.
16. Relevant Services should consider making additional allocations of PEBs to registered parties (which satisfy the criteria at Rule 15) if evidence of their past electoral support and/or current support at a particular election or in a relevant nation/electoral area means it would be appropriate to do so.
17. In determining allocations of PEBs at elections, the four nations of the UK should be considered separately.
18. In accordance with Rules 8 to 12 above, parties which qualify for at least one PEB in one of the nations of England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland will be offered PEBs on the Channel 3 licensee and relevant BBC Service(s) in the appropriate regions of those nations.
19. Parties which qualify for a PEB in all three nations of England, Scotland and Wales will additionally be offered a PEB on Channel 4 (at General Elections), Channel 5 (at General Elections and European Elections) and the UK-wide analogue radio services (at General Elections) (provided these broadcasters are carrying the relevant series of broadcasts; see Rules 8 to 12 above). The purpose of a PEB must not be to promote any particular outcome of a referendum.
20. Where a local digital television programme service licensee is required to broadcast a PEB as a result of Rule 12, local digital television programme service licensees will carry the same PEB as broadcast by the relevant Channel 3 licensee.
PPBs / RCBs
21. In each nation of the UK, parties will be offered one or more PPBs over a 12-month period if:
22. Parties in Great Britain (subject to Rule 21) will be offered one PPB in each of the following three periods: Autumn; Winter; and Spring. Parties in Northern Ireland (subject to Rule 21) will be offered one or two PPBs in the period 1 September to 30 March (excluding December). No PPBs should be broadcast during election or referendum periods.
23. Each designated referendum organisation will be allocated a series of RCBs before each referendum. The allocation should be equal for each referendum organisation.
24. Parties and designated organisations may choose a length of 2’40”, 3’40” or 4’40” on TV. For radio, parties and designated organisations may choose any length up to 2’30”.
25. PEBs, PPBs and RCBs on television must be carried between 5.30pm and 11.30pm.
26. PEBs and RCBs on radio must be carried between 6.00am and 10.00pm.
 Under Schedule 12, paragraph 18 of the Act, the Welsh Authority must prepare and publish a policy with respect to party political and referendum broadcasts and their inclusion in S4C. In doing so it must have regard to (a) any views expressed by the Electoral Commission, and (b) any rules made by Ofcom with respect to party political and referendum broadcasts.
 See section 333(3) of the Act, and sections 37 and 127 of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000.
 Excluding Channel TV; this section of the Act does not apply in the Channel Islands.
 Broadcast in Gaelic.
 Broadcast in Welsh.
 The Broadcasting Code can be found at https://www.ofcom.org.uk/tv-radio-and-on-demand/broadcast-codes/broadcast-code
 For the purposes of PEBs to be broadcast in relation to Scottish elections, the relevant regional Channel 3 licensees are those for the following regions: Central Scotland; the North of Scotland; and Borders.
 BBC Two will not be obliged to carry PEBs for English local elections.
 The relevant Channel 3 licensee, BBC One and BBC Two will not be obliged to carry PEBs in respect of: Mayoral elections (other than London); Police and Crime Commissioner elections; by-elections of any kind; English Parish Council elections; Scottish Community Council elections; and Welsh Community Council elections.
 Local digital television programme service licensees will not be obliged to carry PEBs in respect of: General Elections; European Parliamentary Elections; Scottish Parliament, Welsh Assembly and Northern Ireland Assembly elections; Mayoral elections (other than London); Police and Crime Commissioner elections; by-elections of any kind; English Parish Council elections; Scottish Community Council elections; and Welsh Community Council elections.
 Relevant parliaments and assemblies:
1. This document outlines the procedures which apply to Ofcom’s determination of unresolved disputes between political parties and broadcast licensees under Ofcom’s Rules on Party Political and Referendum Broadcasts ("Ofcom’s PPRB Rules").
2. Such disputes will be determined by Ofcom’s Election Committee (“the Committee”) applying Ofcom’s PPRB Rules, in accordance with section 333 of the Communications Act 2003 (“the Act”) and the BBC Agreement which require Ofcom to ensure that party political broadcasts (including party election broadcasts) and referendum broadcasts are included in the services of every “licensed public service channel” and “national (i.e. UK-wide, commercial) radio service” and in specific BBC Services (“the Broadcaster”).
3. Under Ofcom’s PPRB Rules, decisions as to the precise length, frequency, allocation and/or scheduling of broadcasts offered to political parties/designated organisations are the responsibility of the Broadcaster in the first place. When Broadcasters make the decision, they should notify the relevant political party/designated organisation (”the Party”) promptly in writing, setting out the basis of the relevant decision. If the Party wishes to dispute any element of the Broadcaster’s decision, it should first make representations direct to the Broadcaster to enable the Broadcaster to reconsider its decision.
4. If any dispute remains unresolved between any Broadcaster and any Party, as to the length, frequency, allocation and/or scheduling of broadcasts (“the dispute”), it may be referred by the Party or the Broadcaster to Ofcom for determination under Ofcom’s PPRB Rules using these procedures.
5.These procedures contemplate a dispute being referred to Ofcom in the first place by a political party/designated organisation under Ofcom’s PPRB Rules, and will be appropriately modified where a dispute is first referred by a Broadcaster.
6.If the Party considers it appropriate to refer the dispute to Ofcom under Ofcom’s PPRB Rules, it should do so in writing by email to the Committee (“the Referral Letter”) as soon as reasonably practicable. The letter should be addressed to the Secretary of the Committee at Ofcom: firstname.lastname@example.org.
7.The Party’s Referral Letter should set out the details of the dispute and the Broadcaster in relation to which the dispute is referred, together with the Party’s grounds for disputing a Broadcaster’s decision.
8.The Referral Letter should also enclose any correspondence relevant to the disputed decision, and provide any other relevant evidence or background information. For example, if the Party’s dispute concerns the number of party election broadcasts allocated to the Party by a Broadcaster during an election period, the Party should provide correspondence from the Broadcaster notifying the Party and setting out the basis of its decision, together with any relevant supplementary information about the Party (e.g. its size, support, number of candidates at the election).
9.On receipt of a Party’s Referral Letter, Ofcom will assess the Referral Letter and, if appropriate, write to the Party requesting any relevant further information. If, after consulting the Chair of the Committee, in Ofcom’s view:
Ofcom will write to the Party stating that the Committee will take no further action and providing an explanation of that decision. Otherwise, the Committee will write to the Party confirming whether it has accepted the dispute and, where applicable, requesting any relevant further information (“the Acceptance Letter”). The Acceptance Letter will set out an appropriate timetable under which the dispute will be determined (including the date when the Committee intends to meet), having regard to the need to determine disputes promptly and fairly. For practical reasons, to enable Broadcaster s to schedule all PEBs before polling day, both the Party and the Broadcaster must be prepared to respond very rapidly to requests from Ofcom in furtherance of its considerations of a dispute, and all correspondence will be expected by email.
10.The Committee will also forward the Referral Letter (and any other documentation provided by the Party) to the Broadcaster, giving the Broadcaster an opportunity to respond to the dispute with any comments, representations and additional evidence. The Committee will state a deadline by which the Broadcaster should respond.
11. On receiving the Broadcaster’s response, the Committee will write to the Party again, giving it a final opportunity to reply to the contents of the Broadcaster’s response, and stating the deadline for doing so. Any further response from the Party will be forwarded to the Broadcaster, together with any other relevant documentation, to give it a final opportunity to respond, with a deadline for doing so.
12. Prior to determination of the dispute by the Committee, if the Broadcaster and the Party are able to resolve the dispute, the Party should notify the Committee that it wishes to withdraw the dispute from the Committee. In such circumstances, the Committee will take no further action.
13.If the dispute remains unresolved, the Committee will meet at an arranged time to determine the dispute under Ofcom’s PPRB Rules, considering all the written representations and evidence provided by the Party and the Broadcaster.
14. The Committee will not normally hold an oral hearing. However, the Committee may consider it appropriate to do so in exceptional circumstances, in which case both the Party and the Broadcaster will be invited to attend.
15.The Committee may also consult any relevant third parties (e.g. the Electoral Commission) in order to obtain or confirm any factual or contextual information relevant to determining the dispute. Where appropriate, the Committee will give the Party and/or Broadcaster the opportunity to respond to such information.
16. Once the Committee has determined the dispute, the Committee will write to the Party and the Broadcaster informing them of its decision, and setting out its reasoning.
17. The Committee will publish its decision on the Ofcom website in accordance with its normal process and the principles of transparency and best regulatory practice under section 3(3) of the Act.
18. The Committee’s decision is final and not subject to internal appeal.
The Committee comprises up to five members. The Chairman of the Election Committee is appointed by the Ofcom Board. Other members of the Committee are drawn from the Content Board and/or Ofcom Colleagues as determined by the Chair of the Committee (subject to the quorum requirements).
1) The Election Committee (“the Committee”) is delegated authority from the Ofcom Board to:
a) determine unresolved disputes between (i) Ofcom licensed Broadcasters, the BBC (“Broadcasters”) and (ii) political parties regarding the allocation by Broadcasters of party election broadcasts and referendum campaign broadcasts, and the length, frequency, allocation and/or scheduling of such broadcasts under Ofcom’s Rules on Party Political and Referendum Broadcasts pursuant to section 333 of the Communications Act 2003 (“the Act”) and pursuant to the BBC Agreement.
b) make decisions on complaints received in relation to the standards set by Ofcom in respect of due impartiality pursuant to sections 319(1), 319(2)(c) and 320 of the Act in respect of programmes transmitted by Broadcasters during an election or referendum period where the Content, Media and Policy Group consider:
i) that a substantive issue is raised; and
ii) the complaint, if upheld, might require redress before the election or referendum.
2) The Committee may consider any other matters where directed by the Ofcom board.
3) All decisions of the Committee are final and not subject to internal review.
4) The Committee is authorised to seek such information as it requires and may employ legal or other professional advisers to inform the exercise of its functions.
5) The Committee shall comprise up to five members. The Chairman of the Election Committee is appointed by the Ofcom Board. Other members of the Committee shall be drawn from the Content Board and/or Ofcom Colleagues as determined by the Chair of the Committee (subject to the quorum requirements).
6) A quorum shall be three members, including two Content Board members.
7) The Committee shall, if it thinks appropriate to do so, ask Ofcom Colleagues (including executive Ofcom or Content Board members) or specialists from outside Ofcom to attend meetings.
8) The Secretary to the Corporation or such other person as the Committee decides shall be the Secretary to the Committee.
9) Members’ attendance at meetings through telephone or video link is acceptable for the purposes of determining a quorum. Decisions may be taken via email exchanges.
10) Decisions by members will normally be taken by consensus, although any member may call for a vote to be taken. In such cases, the Chair has a casting vote.
11) Meetings shall be held on an ad hoc basis as and when required.
12) The Secretary to the Committee shall circulate the minutes to members of the Committee and to the Ofcom Board and Content Board.