Election Programmes code of broadcasting practice Rārangi tikanga mā ngā kaipāho mō ngā panui i te wā o te pōti

Election Programmes Code

The Election Programmes Code only applies to election programmes that are broadcast on television or radio during the general election period. Usually, ‘election programmes’ will appear as short promotional / campaign clips for political parties or candidates, broadcast on TV or on radio.

Download the Election Programmes Code and guidance

Make an Election Programmes Complaint

If you would like to make a complaint about an election programme, please use our online form or contact us.

Please note in relation to the Code:

  • Only general elections or by-elections for members of the House of Representatives are covered. Local body elections are not covered by this Code.
  • Legislative amendments have recently been passed (21 March 2017) which make some changes to the requirements for election programmes. For example, the requirement for Television New Zealand and Radio New Zealand to provide time for opening and closing addresses has been removed – this means that Standard E5 Opening and Closing Addresses will not apply during the 2017 General Election.
  • See Broadcasting (Election Programmes and Election Advertising) Amendment Act 2017.

Election Programmes Code

The Broadcasting Act 1989 requires every broadcaster to be responsible for maintaining in programmes and their presentation, standards which are consistent with matters such as good taste and decency, law and order, and privacy.


The Broadcasting Standards Authority (BSA) is responsible for administering the standards regime, determining formal complaints and encouraging broadcasters to develop and observe appropriate Codes of Broadcasting Practice.


The purpose of this Code of Broadcasting Practice is to emphasise important principles regulating the content of broadcast election programmes.


Under section 14 of the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990, there is a right to freedom of expression. When the Authority makes decisions on complaints, it will consider and apply the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act.

Election programmes are subject to the same broadcasting standards as other programmes.

Therefore, this Code should be read alongside the other Codes of Broadcasting Practice: Free-to-Air TelevisionRadio, and Pay Television. The Codes are also available free from the Broadcasting Standards Authority. 

There is one exception to this: the requirement to present a range of significant viewpoints on controversial issues of public importance does not apply to election programmes (see section 79 of the Broadcasting Act(external)).

In recognition of the special context of general elections, broadcasting standards such as fairness and accuracy will be applied to election programmes in a manner that respects the importance of free political expression and debate.

Complaints about election programmes are made straight to the BSA.

An election programme is subject to all relevant provisions of the Codes of Broadcasting Practice for television and radio except for the requirement to present a range of significant viewpoints on issues of public importance.

Robust debate, advocacy and expression of political opinion are a desirable and essential part of a democratic society and broadcasting standards will be applied in a manner which respects this context.

An election programme may include debate, advocacy and opinion, but factual information should be clearly distinguishable from opinion or advocacy.

While an election programme may oppose a political party, or candidate, it may not include material which denigrates a political party or candidate.

An election programme may not imitate an existing programme, format or identifiable personality in a manner which is likely to mislead.

A party opening or closing address must be clearly identifiable as a party political broadcast made by, or on behalf of, a specified political party.

Legislative amendments have recently been passed (21 March 2017) which make some changes to the requirements for election programmes. For example, the requirement for Television New Zealand and Radio New Zealand to provide time for opening and closing addresses has been removed – this means that Standard E5 Opening and Closing Addresses will not apply during the 2017 General Election. See: Broadcasting (Election Programmes and Election Advertising) Amendment Act 2017.