Let’s end the nonsense of sterile PPBs and have proper paid for TV political ads

Let’s end the nonsense of sterile PPBs and have proper paid for TV political ads

This is the way to boost turnout and engage the electorate

Yesterday the UK won a case in the European Court of Human Rights to continue the blocking of US-style political advertising on British TV.

By the narrowest of margins the court decided by 9 to 8 that the UK’s blanket ban does not breach free speech.

Right from the beginning of commercial TV in the UK nearly 60 years ago political advertisements have been banned. The result is that UK elections are totally different from US ones where TV advertising totally dominates.

    What is the case for continuing the ban in the digital television era?

    Surely if we want to encourage more people to be interested in the political process then the full range of communication tools should be available to those who are seeking our votes?

If there’s an issue, as there is, about involving the younger generations in the political process then the parties should be able to reach them by being able to advertise on the TV channels that they watch. It would make for very different General Election campaigns.

This long-standing policy in the UK comes from the nanny age of TV in the early 1950s and is wrong. It completely distorts election campaigning leading to the theatricals of poster unveilings in order to create something visual for the TV bulletins.

In any case there’s no ban on TV type ads on the Internet which is becoming increasingly important. It is time to stop the pussyfooting, get rid of the ludicrous PPBs and have proper political commercials. What are we afraid of?

At the same time we need tougher political funding rules.

Mike Smithson

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