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Election Guidelines

Guidelines for Programmes Broadcast in the run up to and during the Elections on 4 May 2017

Introduction

2017 is a busy political year with a number of local and mayoral elections taking place on 4 May and the General Election on 8 June. These guidelines cover issues concerning programmes broadcast in the run up to the elections on 4 May and on polling day. For information on the General Election please see the separate guidance note, Guidelines for Programmes Broadcast in the run up to and during the General Election on 8 June 2017.

The following elections will be held on the 4 May. The rules set out in Section 6 of the Ofcom Broadcasting Code governing the special impartiality requirements will take effect immediately on the various dates listed below until the close of the polls at 10pm on 4 May 2017 (“the Election Period”):

  • Mayoral Elections (including Greater Manchester, Liverpool City, Cambridgeshire & Peterborough, Tees Valley ,West Midlands, West of England, Doncaster and North Tyneside) 27 March 2017
  • Scottish local government Elections – 22 March 2017
  • English local government elections 27 March 2017
  • Welsh local government elections – 27 March 2017

Collectively, “the Elections”.

Set out below is a summary of the main rules in Section 6, which potentially covers all factual and entertainment programmes whether political or non-political, broadcast during the Election Period.

During the Election Period any coverage of the Elections will be closely scrutinised and it is therefore essential that you read Section 6 and ensure that you are aware of the rules which may impact on your programmes (including repeats on Channel 4 and broadcasts on E4, More4 and the +1 channels). If you need advice or guidance on the rules please contact the Legal and Compliance Department.

General

Due impartiality must be maintained across all programmes giving coverage to the Elections or election issues during the Election Period. While the time devoted to all parties and candidates during the Election Period need not be equal, election programming during the Election Period must give due weight to the coverage of the parties and independent candidates.

In determining the appropriate level of coverage to be given to the parties and independent candidates, we must take into account evidence of past electoral support and / or current support. Please contact the Legal and Compliance department for advice on evidence of past electoral support and current support and the coverage to be given to parties and independent candidates.

In addition, appropriate coverage should be given to parties and independent candidates with significant views and perspectives, which should be represented.

All discussions and analysis of Election issues must finish when the polls open at 7 am on 4 May 2017.

The results of any opinion poll commissioned or undertaken on the 4 May 2017 cannot be published until after the polls close at 10pm that night.

Appearance by Candidates in Programmes

There are strict rules governing the appearance of candidates in any programme during the Election Period. The names of those candidates and parties standing will not be formally confirmed until after the close of nominations which is likely to be:

  • Mayoral Elections (including Greater Manchester, Liverpool City, Cambridgeshire & Peterborough, Tees Valley ,West Midlands, West of England, Doncaster and North Tyneside) 4 April 2017
  • Scottish local government Elections – 29 March 2017
  • English local government elections 4 April 2017
  • Welsh local government elections – 4 April 2017

Before that time you must ensure that you check that individuals appearing in programmes whether as contributors, presenters or interviewers are not planning to run as prospective candidates.

Appearances by candidates in any type of programme as news presenters, interviewers or presenters of any type of programme should cease from the start of the Election Period until close of polls at 10.00 pm on 4th May 2017.

Appearances by candidates in non-political programmes, which were planned or scheduled before the various election periods, may continue but no new appearances should be arranged and broadcast from the start of the Election Periods until after the polls close at 10.00 pm 4th May 2017.

Appearance by candidates in Constituency Reports or Debates

There are special rules governing the appearance of candidates in programmes where they take part in a report or debate focussing on their particular constituency (‘Constituency Report or Debate’).

  • If any candidate takes part in an item about his or her constituency or electoral area, all candidates within the constituency or electoral area who represent parties with previous significant electoral support or where there is evidence of significant current support, must be offered the opportunity to take part. This also applies to independent candidates.
  • If a candidate refuses or is unable to take part, the item can still go ahead and be broadcast.
  • After the close of nominations all constituency or electoral area reports or discussions must include a list of all candidates standing, giving first names, surnames and the name of the party they represent, or if they are standing independently, the fact that they are an independent candidate. This must be conveyed in sound and/or vision.
  • Where a candidate is taking part in a programme on any matter broadcast after the election has been called, she /he must not be given the opportunity to make constituency points, or electoral area points about the constituency or electoral area in which she/he is standing, when no other candidates will be given a similar opportunity.

Please contact the Legal and Compliance Department for advice if you intend to include a candidate in any items.

Due Impartiality

The normal due impartiality rules set out in Section 5 of the Ofcom Broadcasting Code apply as always. In particular the rules relating to matters of major political or industrial controversy and major matters relating to current public policy apply to the coverage of the elections and policies under discussion or already agreed by a local, regional or national government or public body.

Party Election Broadcasts

Channel 4 is not required to carry Party Election Broadcasts in relation to these elections. Any enquiries from political parties or candidates should be directed to Emily Barber in Legal & Compliance and Tom Porter, Commissioning Editor, News and Current Affairs.


The Party Political Slots series will not be scheduled during the Election Period.

Video on Demand and Web Content

The above rules and guidance do not apply to our video on demand service.

Although the Ofcom Broadcasting Code provisions do not extend to our video on demand and online coverage, the Channel will ensure that its video on demand and online coverage of the Elections is consistent in terms of fairness and balance.



Channel 4 Legal & Compliance Department
15 March 2017