New Zealand Law Society - Authority releases new broadcasting code ahead of election

Authority releases new broadcasting code ahead of election

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The Broadcasting Standards Authority (BSA) has released its updated Election Programmes Code ahead of the 19 September General Election.

The code standards and guidelines apply to election programmes - election advertisements broadcast on television and radio by or for political parties and candidates - in the run-up to a general election.

The Election Programmes Code has been updated to:

*        Provide enhanced guidance to assist broadcasters, political parties and candidates, and the public understand how the standards apply to broadcast election programmes in the lead-up to the election;

*        Reflect legislative changes arising from the Broadcasting (Election Programmes and Election Advertising) Amendment Act 2017 such as the removal of the requirement for opening and closing addresses to be broadcast on television and radio; and

*        Where appropriate, align with similar standards overseen by other standards entities, with the aim of ensuring some consistency across the platforms on which election advertising may appear.

The BSA says the code has been refreshed after consultation with broadcasters, government and non-government stakeholders and the public.

“The Election Programmes Code sets standards for broadcasters to ensure that the exercise of political speech in election programmes does not cause harm. It is important therefore that the code is clear about how the standards apply and we hope that the refreshed code achieves this purpose,” says BSA Chief Executive Belinda Moffat.

“The code is an important safeguard against the risk of misinformation during the election process. During an election period people may complain to the BSA if they are concerned that an election programme does not meet the standards. From June until September 2020, the BSA will operate a fast track process so that election related complaints can be dealt with swiftly.”

For this year’s election, the Election Programmes Code will apply to election programmes broadcast on television and radio during the election period which runs from 16 August 2020 until midnight on 18 September.

The refreshed code comes into effect from 1 March 2020.

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