Can politicians present TV and radio shows? How Ofcom rules apply

Mar 21st '23

Kevin Bakhurst, Group Director for Broadcasting and Online Content, at Office of Communications (Ofcom) explains the rules for politicians presenting and appearing on television programmes.


There has been a lot of recent discussion about politicians presenting, and appearing on, television and radio programmes.


So this is a good opportunity to clarify Ofcom’s rules in this area.


In general, serving politicians cannot be a newsreader, interviewer or reporter in any news programme. They are allowed to present other kinds of shows, however, including current affairs. Sometimes those programmes may be on channels that also broadcast news; what matters here is the format of the particular show.


The right to freedom of expression is a really important factor here. Broadcasters should be free to make editorial and creative choices. As the viewer or listener, you have the right to receive a range of information and ideas.


But generally speaking, if it’s a news programme, a politician cannot present. This includes a ban on candidates doing so during an election period.


What exactly is a news programme?

Every programme is different, but here are some typical factors that could lead us to classify content as a news programme:


  • a newsreader presenting directly to the audience;
  • a running order or list of stories, often in short form;
  • the use of reporters or correspondents to deliver packages or live reports; and/or
  • a mix of video and reporter items.


Factors that could lead us to classify content as current affairs (in other words, not ‘news’), include:


  • a more long-form programme;
  • extensive discussion, analysis or interviews with guests, often live; and
  • long-form video reports.


You can find the complete set of rules that govern TV, radio and on-demand services, Ofcom’s Broadcasting Code, on the website.


Source: Ofcom


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