Special rules apply when reporting political matters during an election or referendum period. These rules are designed to ensure one party or candidate does not get an advantage over the others and exist in addition to the general rules concerning impartiality.
Detailed advice will be sent to editorial staff and relevant programme-makers at the time of elections. As special restrictions apply during an election period, programme-makers must seek legal advice at the earliest opportunity. It is important to remember that the "major parties" must be given due weight in coverage during an election period and no candidate should be given an unfair advantage. On polling day, discussion of election issues should cease.
Definition of 'Election Period':
- For a parliamentary general election, this period begins with the announcement of the dissolution of Parliament. For a parliamentary by-election, this period begins with the issuing of a writ or on such earlier date as is notified in the London Gazette.
- For the Scottish Parliament elections, the period begins with the dissolution of the Scottish Parliament or, in the case of a by-election, with the date of the occurrence of a vacancy.
- For the National Assembly for Wales, the Northern Ireland Assembly, the London Assembly and for local government elections, it is the last date for publication of notices of the election.
- For European parliamentary elections, it is the last date for publication of the notice of election, which is 25 days before the election. In all cases the period ends with the close of the poll.
For regulatory Code requirements for Election reporting see Ofcom Code - 'Elections and Referendums'.