Broadcast reform 'will stifle democracy'

April 24, 1998

PROPOSED reform of party political broadcasting would stifle democratic debate and leave the electorate less informed, according to researchers at Loughborough University. A report by academics in the university's communications research centre criticises proposals in a consultation document on reform of party political broadcasts.

The consultation paper, prepared by the BBC and other broadcasters, proposes reducing the number of party political broadcasts between elections and raising the threshold of seats a party must contest in order to qualify for a broadcast slot.

Dominic Wring, of the communications research centre, said: "As they stand the proposals for cuts in party political broadcasting will deny politicians the right to directly address the public outside the increasingly sterile four week election campaign period. Furthermore, at a time when viewpoints on the government and opposition frontbenches are converging, broadcasters should not be seeking to deny smaller parties the right to airtime."

A report based on the consultation will be published in due course.

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