Ukip given second poll broadcast
Ukip have been awarded an additional party election broadcast on commercial TV and radio in this year's general election campaign, in recognition of the surge in their popularity since 2010.
Nigel Farage's party have been guaranteed a minimum of two broadcasts in England and Wales on ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5 and three national radio stations, announced the media regulator. But the Greens were denied an extra broadcast, after Ofcom determined that evidence from electoral performance and trends in opinion polling data did not merit an increase from the minimum of one they were offered in the last Westminster poll.
Despite polling only 3% in the last general election, Ukip was given approval for a second broadcast on the basis of its strong showing in opinion polls over the past few years, as well as its performance in local elections and the 2014 European Parliament election, in which it scooped first place with 26.6% of the vote.
Under broadcasting rules, all parties standing in at least one-sixth of seats at the general election must be offered a minimum of one PEB on each of the channels covered by Ofcom - ITV, STV, UTV, Channel 4, Channel 5, Classic FM, Talksport and Absolute Radio. However, the regulator can also rule that major parties are entitled to a minimum of two, either Britain-wide, across England and Wales or in Scotland, Northern Ireland or Wales only. Broadcasters can - and often do - transmit more than the required minimum number.
As in previous elections, Conservatives, Labour and Liberal Democrats have been awarded a minimum of two Britain-wide broadcasts, with the SNP getting two in Scotland, Plaid Cymru two in Wales and the Alliance Party, the Democratic Unionist Party, Sinn Fein, the Social Democratic and Labour Party, and the Ulster Unionist Party two in Northern Ireland.
Ukip is the only party granted a minimum of two across England and Wales. Following a consultation starting in January, Ofcom rejected a second broadcast across Britain for the Greens - including the Scottish Green Party - and for Traditional Unionist Voice in Northern Ireland.
The decision has no bearing on the vexed question of whether there should be live TV debates between the major party leaders, which are an issue for negotiation between the broadcasters and parties.
Ukip chairman Steve Crowther said: "I am pleased to hear the ruling confirming that Ukip is now recognised as a major party.
"The fact that Ukip was the victor in the last two by-elections, in the European elections last year, whilst maintaining its regular polling in the high teens and is considerably ahead of the Liberal Democrats, and in many parts of the country is supported by a quarter of the electorate or more, means that this is simply a recognition of what everybody knows."