New Zealand Law Society - Parties' addresses could be dropped from election shows

Parties' addresses could be dropped from election shows

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A parliamentary select committee is recommending an overhaul of the way election broadcasts are made to make them more voter-friendly.

Following the Justice and Electoral Committee’s Inquiry into the 2014 general election, it has recommended that the Government consider “greater flexibility for opening and closing addresses and give parties the choice around how they want to use their allocation to buy broadcasting time and money”.

The Broadcasting (Election Programmes and Election Advertising) Amendment Bill would remove the requirement for opening and closing addresses, and for TVNZ and RNZ to provide time for these addresses.

The committee has released its report on the bill with a recommendation that it be passed with amendments.

The bill would also allow parties to use their funding allocation to publish election ads on the internet.

The changes are likely to be in place for the general election to be held later this year.

Another recommendation is on electoral spending.

The report notes that “if a party uses all or part of its allocation to fund an election programme or election advertisement, to the extent that programme or advertisement is a candidate advertisement, that funding will be a candidate donation, and the expense a candidate election expense.”

The bill would remove the requirement for broadcasters to submit returns of all election programmes broadcast.

Announcing the bill last October the Justice and Broadcasting Minister, Amy Adams, said the changes would address an ongoing disinterest in political programmes.

“The addresses are an outdated format and declining audience numbers show they are not effective at engaging voters,” she said.

During opening addresses in 2014, TVNZ received 25% fewer viewers than they would usually get.

“I hope that by giving parties more flexibility in how they communicate their messages, more voters will engage in the electoral process,” said Ms Adams.

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