Skip to main content

Return to Election Programmes Code

Does the BSA pre-vet election advertising?

No. To ensure you do not breach broadcasting standards you should review the standards that are contained in the various Codes of Broadcasting Practice. You may wish to review BSA decisions about previous election programmes that have been complained about (see below).

Note also that your ad will need to be assessed by the Commercials Approval Bureau (CAB) before it can be broadcast.

Can you give us general compliance advice about our broadcast advertising or the allocation of free broadcast time?

For advice about the rules around broadcast advertising or the allocation of free broadcast time you should refer to the guidance provided by the Electoral Commission.

The Commission has specific rules around advertising.

What election programmes have been complained about in the past?

These are election programmes about which the BSA has determined complaints.

All the links to BSA decisions below (HTML) open a new window.
Decisions prior to 1994 are available as PDFs only.








Should we pull the election advertisement while the BSA determines the complaint?

The BSA cannot direct you to stop playing a programme that has been complained about so this will need to be your decision. The broadcaster may also choose to pull the advertisement, so you should discuss the matter with them. You should assess this on a case-by-case basis but you may choose to have regard to the nature of the complaint (a serious allegation of inaccuracy or denigration may cause more issues in election time than, for example, issues relating to good taste and decency or law and order); the effect of continuing to play the advertisement in terms of free and fair elections; and, of course, the principle that free speech should not be unduly fettered.

What will the BSA do if it upholds a complaint under the Election Programmes Code?

It is the broadcaster who carries the risk, not the advertiser. (Of course, you may have a contractual indemnification with the broadcaster which makes you liable for any breach of broadcasting standards.) The BSA can make any of its usual orders but in past decisions the BSA has tended not to use its powers; however, it reserves the right to do so if that is warranted.
See BSA Orders

In the event of an uphold the BSA expects the broadcaster and political party concerned to alter the advertisement if possible to alleviate the breach, and an offer to do so could be taken into account by the BSA in determining an appropriate order.

Disclaimer: Nothing here binds the BSA in determining the outcome of any future complaint. Each complaint is determined on the particular facts surrounding a broadcast.