Arts: Labour and Lib Dems to fight for broadcasts

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Labour and the Liberal Democrats were preparing yesterday for a battle with broadcasters over a plan to scrap party political broadcasts except during poll campaigns.

The Greens also pledged to fight the proposal that it, and parties such as the British National Party and the Pro-Life Alliance, will need to double the seats they contest at local or parliamentary elections before being given a broadcast.

TA joint BBC and Independent Television Commission consultation document contains plans to end broadcasts between elections, shorten them, and increase from 50 to 110 the number of parliamentary seats a party must contest before getting a broadcast.

Labour said it was "deeply alarmed" at plans to end PPBs at the time of the Budget, the party conference season or when it wants to mark special events. A party spokesman said: "They seem to suggest broadcasters believe political parties should not be able to communicate directly with the electorate except at election time."

The Liberal Democrats said they would also oppose the plans, because they could not match the advertising budgets of Labour and the Conservative parties. But the Tory leader William Haguesaid the proposals were sensible.

Andrew Marr, page 19