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Thursday, 26 April 2012

Election broadcasting rules are out of date

The Times newspaper has today called for an urgent review of the broadcasting rules. The London Mayoral election has shown that the rules are outdated and are designed to protect party politics. There are seven candidates in the race to be the mayor but only six candidates have been given party election broadcasts on the television. The Independent candidate Siobhan Benita has been barred from having one. On Tuesday it was confirmed by the BBC Trust that Siobhan Benita’s second appeal in two days for a PEB has been rejected.

The BBC/ITV claim that they look at previous electoral success but they've included the Green party candidate in debates along side Boris Johnson, Ken Livingstone and Brian Paddick despite them only picking up two seats on the GLA through the list system. The Green party do not having a constituency members of the GLA but then neither do the Liberal Democrats. The Greens have no, London, Members of Parliament or control of any, London, councils. So the Greens are basically level pegging in London with the United Kingdom Independence party and the British National Party but are being treated differently by the broadcasters. 

The British National Party did have a party election broadcast where the line "I don’t want my London to be a beacon for Islam" which is a direct response to Ken Livingstone who has said in this campaign that he wants to make London a "beacon of Islam". They also used a comment used by Gordon Brown at the Labour party conference when he was Prime Minister "British Jobs for British workers". 

The Independent candidate Siobhan Benita said today she was delighted that the Times newspaper is supporting her call for an urgent review of the broadcasting rules. In a leader column entitled "The broadcasting rules are biased against candidates with no party allegiance", the article describes her as a "viable independent candidate" who is "a refreshing presence in a campaign that has been dominated by the usual three parties fielding the same candidates as they did four years ago". 

This week the BBC refused to allow Ms Benita a party election broadcast but allowed a BNP one to go ahead. She says rules of coverage are unworkable as they are based on previous electoral support or evidence of current support. The Times is calling on the BBC and other broadcasters to review their guidelines to take account of independent candidates as they are currently severely impeded by the rules which are skewed in favour of established parties. 

Siobhan Benita has also lodged an official complaint with ofcom over ITV and Sky's decision to exclude her from their TV debates. Ms Benita will shortly be releasing her own official election broadcast on 'you tube' which will be put onto the politico daily.