TUV fail Ofcom’s ‘major party’ test for automatic PEBs; are PEBs actually useful or necessary?

Ofcom logoOfcom have ruled that there is not sufficient evidence to designate TUV as a ‘major party’ in Northern Ireland and hence Jim Allister’s party are not automatically eligible to two Party Election Broadcasts on UTV in the run up to May’s General Election.

Back in January I blogged about the consultation which asked whether UKIP, Green Party and TUV should be rebadged as ‘major parties’.

Today’s statement from Ofcom [in detail] comes to the common sense conclusion:

After carefully accessing 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.

Five NI parties are entitled to a minimum of two party election broadcasts: Alliance, DUP, Sinn Féin, SDLP and UUP.

TUV did not demonstrate significant electoral support in the 2010 General Election in Northern Ireland. The party performed better in the 2014 European Parliamentary elections, obtaining 12.1% of the vote in Northern Ireland. However, it has not received significant support in other forms of election and nor does this party have significant current support in opinion polls.

Taking together all the relevant evidence and the views of respondents to our consultation, Ofcom continues to consider that the evidence does not justify the addition of TUV to the list of major parties for Northern Ireland.

Relevant broadcasters falling under Ofcom’s licensing (UTV/ITV/STV, Channel 4, Channel 5, Classic FM, Talksport and Absolute Radio) must also offer a minimum of one PEB to other parties standing candidates in at least one sixth of seats at the General Election (that’s 3 out of 18 seats for NI).

Over on the BBC, a registered political party will qualify for one PEB if it stands candidates in a minimum of 3 seats in Northern Ireland. Evidence of substantial support give larger parties additional PEBs.

So TUV may yet have a few opportunities to spend money putting their message on air.

Are Party Election Broadcasts really necessary? And do they actually help get the tone and policies of a party across to the electorate?