Greens lose out in latest TV ruling but Ukip gain after being classed as 'major party'

Nigel Farage's party will be guaranteed at least two election broadcasts but the Greens only have an automatic right to one

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Indy Politics

Television viewers will have to endure even more coverage of Nigel Farage in the run-up to the election but will not be forced to sit through as many awkward Natalie Bennett interviews.

That’s because Ofcom, the media watchdog, ruled that the Greens did not qualify as “major party” status and will therefore not be given the automatic right to have at least two televised election broadcasts.

The same is not the case for Ukip, who will now be treated on the same playing field as Labour, the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats and will be given a minimum of two broadcasts on ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5.

The rules do not apply to the BBC, which is regulated by the BBC Trust. The broadcaster has classed the Greens as a “smaller party”.

It is a blow for Ms Bennett, who has presided over a huge spike in membership numbers and a rise in the polls, which she was hoping would lead to being classed as a “major party”.

The Green party leader was humiliated last month after she was left floundering for around three minutes on the subject of how her party would pay for a pledge to provide 500,000 more social rent homes in the UK, an interview she admitted was “absolutely excruciating”.

The Greens will be given at least one party political broadcast and broadcasters are free to offer more.

Meanwhile the SNP will be granted two broadcasters in Scotland, as Welsh nationalists Plaid Cymru will be in Wales .

In Northern Ireland, the DUP, Sinn Fein, The Social Democratic and Labour party, the Ulster Unionist party and the Aliiance party will all be given two broadcasts.

The party was hoping to mirror its successful appeal to be included in the TV debates after Ofcom initially excluded them from their proposals.

The Greens will appear alongside the three main Westminster parties, Ukip, the SNP and Plaid Cymru in the proposed seven-way format, but there are doubts over whether the debates will go ahead after Mr Cameron’s refusal to take part.

8-TV-Debate-Getty.jpgThe latest decision was described as “deeply disappointing” by the Green party, who accused the regulator of failing to recognise that the future of British politics does not have to look like the politics of the past”.

“People across the UK understand that the political landscape is fracturing and, as demonstrated by the ‘Green surge’, more and more voters are eager to hear about and share Green values and policies.

“To consider the Green Party, the party with the third largest membership in England and Wales, not to be a ‘major’ party does a disservice to our democracy.”

Nigel Farage said the ruling proved Ukip were now a major player in British politics

The news was met with obvious joy by Mr Farage, who said it confirmed that Ukip was now a major player in British politics.

He said: “Voters should now know that despite what all the other parties are going to tell them, the truth is self-evident: if you believe in Britain, and want to vote Ukip, you’ll get a Ukip MP. It’s great news.”