Rules and guidelines governing PEBs, post 1997 election

The current situation differs little from what it was in the 1990s. The broadcasters, in consultation with the political parties, decide on the allocation of broadcasts. Guidelines relating to the commercial sector (e.g. ITV, Channel 4) are contained in documents produced by OFCOM.

The documents indicate the lengths of the broadcasts available, e.g. ‘Parties may choose a length of 2'40", 3'40" or 4'40"’. It should be recalled, though, that in the 1950s, PEBs could be as long as 20 minutes!

Current rules re-PEBs as set out by OFCOM

The websites listed below offer additional information regarding election broadcasts:

Background (House of Commons) note on the development of PEB rules

BBC Guidelines, Policy and Reports

The BBC consultation on allocation of broadcasts in anticipation of the 2005 election

Electoral Commission, Useful note on background of PEBs

ITC notes on PEBs rules in 1999

Keele University carries transcripts of PEBs from the 1960s onwards

Occasionally, there are controversies surrounding who can broadcast and the content of broadcasts. This website highlights one such example and deals with the case of ProfLife Alliance vs. the BBC

Other useful websites:

History of the BBC

History of BBC news