Guidelines for the Production of Party Broadcasts October 2014
You can download a pdf version of the guidelines here
These Guidelines are designed to cover compliance issues and the ‘rules' to be observed by all qualifying political parties. While parties are responsible for the content of the broadcasts, they are required to observe the following guidelines, which have been agreed between the broadcasters and will be applied equally to all parties.
They are designed to reconcile the editorial standards of the broadcasters and their audiences' expectations with the freedom of political parties to convey their political messages, and to ensure that these are met on all outlets.
All broadcasts must observe the law - for example, on copyright, libel, privacy, contempt, obscenity, incitement to racial or religious hatred, or violence.
All broadcasts must comply with the Ofcom Broadcasting Code, in particular in relation to harm and offence (Section 2) and to fairness and privacy (Sections 7 & 8), and with the provisions of the BBC Editorial Guidelines that relate to harm and offence (Chapter 5 of the BBC Editorial Guidelines) and fairness and privacy (Chapters 6 & 7 of the BBC Editorial Guidelines), having regard to the political context of the broadcast.
Subject to the matters set out above, accuracy is the responsibility of the parties making the broadcasts.
Impartiality is achieved over the series of broadcasts as a whole. There is, of course, no obligation on the parties to achieve impartiality within each broadcast.
The party responsible for the broadcast will indemnify the broadcaster in respect of any legal action resulting from the content of the election broadcast.
Third Party Rights
It is the responsibility of the political party to ensure that all permissions and third party rights (such as for music and archive footage) required for broadcast and online publication have been secured, prior to transmission. Broadcasters may seek written confirmation of these rights clearances before transmission, following the delivery of the broadcast.
No identifiable individual should be featured prominently in a broadcast without that person's consent, which should generally be recorded in writing, and copies of release forms should be made available to the broadcaster on request. Likewise, written consent from a parent or guardian is required for the appearance of any child (ie someone under the age of 16).
Third Party Footage & Images
Subject to the Rules of Coverage for the respective institutions, extracts of recordings from proceedings in the Scottish Parliament, the National Assembly of Wales, the Northern Ireland Assembly and the London Assembly may be used featuring a speech or extract by a member of the party making the broadcast, where that member’s consent has been obtained. Extracts in sound or vision featuring members not of the party making the broadcast must have the consent both of the member and the other party concerned.
Use of footage from proceedings of the Houses of Parliament is not permitted, due to the limitations on broadcast use of such footage required by the Parliamentary Recording Unit.
Extracts from party conference speeches of the party allocated the broadcast may be used, and can be licensed in the normal way from the broadcasters.
Archive or news clips of members of any other political party should not be included without the permission of the individual and the party concerned. This applies to both visual and audio material. Undistorted stills are allowed.
News footage featuring a party's own leader and politicians may be purchased from broadcasters in the usual way, but clips which identify the programme in which they featured via on screen logos, theme music or the voice or face of a presenter/reporter, will not be allowed.
Other Content Issues
Images or recordings including broadcasters – such as interviewers or reporters - are not permitted where the impartiality of the broadcaster might be called into question by their inclusion in the broadcast.
The use of reconstructions or actors in a broadcast must be made clear to the audience if there is any possibility that the audience could be confused or misled by their appearance.
Broadcasts that closely mimic or parody the format of established programmes on any channel, particularly news programmes, should be clearly labelled to avoid any confusion or run the risk of misleading the audience.
Where candidates are included in a party election broadcast there should not be any explicit visual or verbal reference made to their constituencies. This does not apply in the European elections to images or general references to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. It also does not apply to pictures of the Houses of Parliament, the Scottish Parliament, the Senedd, or Stormont, which can be used in broadcasts featuring candidates for the constituencies in which those buildings are located, provided there is no reference to constituency issues.
Political parties planning to use telephone or text numbers in their broadcasts must consult with individual broadcasters at least one week before transmission, in order to ensure there is appropriate compliance with the strict rules which apply in this area, including the form of words to be used in text and voice. Party Broadcasts will not be transmitted unless a form of words agreed with the broadcaster is used. No revenue-generating telephone numbers are to be used in a broadcast. Appeals for members of the audience to contact the party at the end of the broadcast by telephone, e-mail etc are allowed, subject to consultation beforehand with individual broadcasters about telephone or text numbers, but direct appeals for funds are not allowed.
Broadcasts should be delivered via digital file following the common technical standards agreed by the BBC, Channel 4, Channel 5 and ITV for these broadcasters (except BBC Wales, BBC Scotland, S4C and STV). Broadcasts for other broadcasters (BBC Wales, BBC Scotland, S4C and STV) should be delivered on digi-beta tapes.
Broadcasts should be in widescreen format (16x9 full height anamorphic). The sound can be in mono or stereo. The broadcast master material should be delivered together with two DVD copies to each broadcaster carrying the
broadcast. Delivery requirements and addresses should be checked directly with each of the broadcasters individually.
The digital files or tapes, transcripts and details of any music used must be delivered by 10 am at least 3 working days before the date of transmission. Broadcasters reserve the right to cancel and reschedule the broadcast of any material that is not delivered on time, or where compliance issues are identified by the broadcaster on delivery, requiring amendments prior to broadcast. They also reserve the right to recharge for any extra costs incurred (for instance, use of edit/viewing facilities for compliance purposes), due to late delivery.
See the websites of the individual broadcasters for full technical specifications. For technical specifications for broadcasts on BBC radio please see BBC Radio Resources website.
Radio broadcasts, where applicable, should be supplied on 2 CDs, and these must be data discs [CD or DVD] and NOT audio CDs.
Television political broadcasts (and BBC Radio 4 broadcasts, where applicable) can be one of three lengths, 2'40”, 3'40” or 4'40”. The Broadcasters must be informed of the selected duration a minimum of 2 weeks in advance of the broadcast date.
For BBC Radio 2, BBC London (radio) and BBC Radio in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, broadcasts should be 1'30".
For commercial radio, broadcasts may be any duration up to 2' 30", but the preferred length is 1' 30".