Each election year, Parliament appropriates an amount of money to enable political parties to fund their broadcasting of election programmes and election advertising for the election. The Electoral Commission is responsible for allocating that money to eligible parties.
The process for determining the broadcasting allocation is set out in the Part 6 of the Broadcasting Act 1989.
A party is only eligible to receive an allocation if the party:
a) has provided notice to the Commission by the date required that the party considers it will be qualified for an allocation
b) is registered on the Register of Political Parties at the time of the dissolution or expiry of Parliament.
The Electoral Commission must allocate the money appropriated by Parliament to eligible parties in accordance with the statutory criteria, which are:
a) the number of persons who voted at the preceding general election for a party and its candidates, and
b) the number of persons who voted at any by-election held since the preceding general election for any candidate for the party, and
c) the number of members of Parliament who were members of that party immediately before the expiration or dissolution of Parliament, and
d) any relationships that exist between a party and any other party, and
e) any other indications of public support for a party such as the results of opinion polls and the number of persons who are members of the party, and
f) the need to provide a fair opportunity for each registered political party to convey its policies to the public by the broadcasting of election programmes on television
How parties can use the allocation
The Broadcasting Act sets out how eligible parties may use their allocation to buy advertising time on TV and radio, buy advertising on the internet, and pay for the production costs of TV, radio and internet advertising.
Placement on TV and radio
Eligible parties may use their allocation to buy advertising time on TV and radio. Parties can only advertise on TV and radio during the election period and are prohibited from TV and radio advertising at any other time. The Act prohibits parties from using their own money to buy time to broadcast TV and radio advertising.
Placement on internet
The allocation may be used to place or promote advertising on the internet so long as it is published during the election period. Parties can spend their own funds for placement costs before and during the election period.
Parties may use the allocation to pay for all or part of the production costs of TV and radio programmes. The allocation may also be used for all or part of the production costs of internet advertising that is published during the election period, or both before and during the election period. A party can also use its own funds (within their election expenditure limit) on production costs for all advertising.
Previous broadcasting allocation decisions
The broadcasting allocation decisions for previous elections can be downloaded below:
Broadcasting Allocation Decision 29 May 2020 (PDF, 162KB)
Broadcasting Allocation Variation 09 September 2020 (PDF, 120KB)