Ofcom, the UK's broadcasting and communications authority, has announced that the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) has been added to it's list of major political parties, and thus entitling them to nationally televised Party Election Broadcasts.
Ofcom's rules cover party election broadcasts appearing on ITV, STV, UTV, Channel 4, Channel 5, Classic FM, Talksport and Absolute Radio.
In its consultation, Ofcom considered whether the existing ‘major parties’ should remain on the list and whether the Green Party (including the Scottish Green Party), Traditional Unionist Voice (TUV) and UKIP should be added to the list of parties entitled to a minimum allocation of two party election broadcasts.
After carefully assessing consultation responses, evidence of electoral performance and trends in opinion polling data up to and including February 2015, Ofcom has added UKIP to the list in England and Wales for the May 2015 elections.
Based on the evidence, the Green Party (including the Scottish Green Party) and TUV have not been added to the list on this occasion.
As a result, those parties entitled to a minimum of two party election broadcasts are:
- In Great Britain, the Conservative Party; the Labour Party; and the Liberal Democrats.
- In Scotland, the Scottish National Party (SNP).
- In Wales, Plaid Cymru.
- In Northern Ireland, the Alliance Party; the Democratic Unionist Party; Sinn Fein; the Social Democratic and Labour Party; and the Ulster Unionist Party.
- In England and Wales, UKIP.
- Broadcasters must also offer a minimum of one party election broadcast to other parties standing candidates in at least one sixth of seats at the General Election. Beyond these minimum requirements, broadcasters are required to consider offering further party election broadcasts if evidence of past electoral support or opinion polling data means it would be appropriate to do so.