Statement published 9 Mar 2017
This document sets out Ofcom’s decision to amend Section Six (elections and referendums) of the Broadcasting Code (“the Code”) and Ofcom’s rules on party political and referendum broadcasts (“PPRB Rules”) to remove the concept of the list of larger parties.
Broadcasters will have greater editorial freedom to take decisions in the area of elections by reference to evidence of past electoral support and/or current support, whilst candidates and parties will retain the ability to appeal to Ofcom about broadcasters’ decisions.
In order to help broadcasters to take editorial decisions during election campaigns, we will publish an annual digest of past electoral and current support in the lead up to each set of May elections. We have also set out factors we take into account when making decisions in the area of elections, including that we put more weight on evidence of past electoral support than evidence of current support (e.g. opinion polls).
In this document we also confirm our proposed approach for regulating BBC editorial content in the areas of due impartiality, due accuracy, elections and referendums. Specifically, we have amended: Section Five (due impartiality) of the Code; Section Six of the Code; and the PPRB Rules.
The revised PPRB Rules (contained in Annex 1) and the revised rules in Section Five and Section Six of the Code (contained in Annex 2) come into effect on 22 March 2017. We will issue them on that date and also publish our updated Guidance to Section Five and Section Six of the Code. In accordance with the transitional arrangements in the BBC Charter and Agreement, Sections Five and Six of the Code and the PPRB Rules, as amended, apply to the BBC from 22 March 2017.