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In May, the UK local elections will take place, and broadcasters will need to follow the rules of ‘Purdah’. We wanted to share insight on what those rules mean as they could impact PR campaigns.

Elections are a cornerstone of democracy, and the fair and equal representation of all voices is crucial. In the UK, the rules around elections and broadcast media aim to ensure a level playing field for all political parties and candidates and to prevent the abuse of media power to sway public opinion.

Broadcast media, including television and radio, play an essential role in elections coverage, providing citizens with information about candidates and their policies. However, it is important that the rules around broadcast media during elections are followed to ensure fairness and impartiality.

The UK’s rules around elections and broadcast media are set out by the Communications Act 2003 and the Broadcasting Code, which is regulated by Ofcom, the independent regulator for the UK’s communications industries. The rules include the following:

  1. Impartiality: Broadcast media must be impartial in their coverage of election campaigns, providing equal opportunities for all parties and candidates to be heard.
  2. Allocation of airtime: Political parties are entitled to a certain amount of airtime during the election period, known as the “party election broadcast”, to promote their policies and candidates.
  3. Sponsorship: Political parties and candidates are not allowed to sponsor or pay for broadcast advertising to prevent the abuse of money to influence public opinion.
  4. Reporting: Broadcast media must report on the election campaign and provide accurate and impartial information about the candidates and parties.
  5. Polling Day: On polling day, broadcast media must be careful not to give any indication of the election’s outcome before the polls close, to prevent the influence of public opinion.

In conclusion, the UK’s rules around elections and broadcast media are designed to ensure fairness and impartiality in the election process. The independence of broadcast media and the impartial reporting of election campaigns is crucial to providing a free and fair election and preventing media power’s abuse to sway public opinion.

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