Political parties and candidates must have access to the public media on a non-discriminatory basis.
- Provide that no legal or administrative obstacle stands in the way of unimpeded access to the media on a non-discriminatory basis for all political groupings and individuals wishing to participate in the electoral process.
- SADC Member States shall adhere to the following principles in the conduct of democratic elections: Equal opportunity for all political parties to access the state media
- Member States should adopt measure whereby print media outlets which are owned by public authorities, when covering electoral campaigns, should do so in a fair, balanced and impartial manner, without discriminating against or supporting a specific political party or candidate.
- SADC Member States shall adhere to the following principles in the conduct of democratic elections: Equal opportunity for all political parties to access the state media.
- The exercise of power and the use of public funds by the state, the granting of customs duty privileges, the arbitrary and discriminatory placement of official advertising and government loans, the concession of radio and television broadcast frequencies, among others, with the intent to put pressure on and punish or reward the opinions they express threaten freedom of expression, and must be explicitly prohibited by law.
- [States should foster citizen participation in the electoral process by] ensuring freedom of political debate in the media and guaranteeing that electoral campaigns are open and accessible and that they allow genuine debate that is not only of interest to voters but also informative for their choices. This requires, in particular, transparency and pluralism of all media as well as equal access for all candidates and political parties to the public service media, which should be impartial. Any national regulations on election campaigns should strike a fair balance between freedom of expression and ensuring equal opportunities.
- We commit our Governments to: d) safeguard the human and civil liberties of all citizens including the freedom of…expression…as well as access to the media on the part of all stakeholders, during electoral processes.
- Individuals or political parties shall have the right to freedom of movement, to campaign and to express political opinions with full access to the media and information within the limits of the laws of the land.
- All contesting parties and candidates should have equal access to the public media.
- It is important to stress that the role of the media is not just as a vehicle for expression in the narrow sense. The media are important also as a means to enable the public to exercise their right to freedom of information.
- A country's legal framework should contain the following guarantees: That the political parties and candidates are given the necessary legal guarantees to enable them to compete with each other on a basis of equitable treatment before the law and by the state authorities. That no legal or administrative obstacle stands in the way of access to the media on a non-discriminatory basis for all political groupings and individuals wishing to participate in the electoral process.
- Depending on the subject matter, equality may be strict or proportional. If it is strict, political parties are treated on an equal footing irrespective of their current parliamentary strength or support among the electorate. If it is proportional, political parties must be treated according to the results achieved in the elections. Equality of opportunity applies in particular to radio and television air-time, public funds, and other forms of backing.
- All publicly-owned media, including public service broadcasters, should be under the following obligations during an election period: To grant all parties and candidates equitable access to the media to communicate their messages directly with the public, either for free or at subsidised rates. Equitable access means fair and non-discriminatory access allocated according to objective criteria for measuring overall levels of support, and includes factors such as timing of access and any fees.
- Any legislation or regulation of the media should reinforce the principle of equal or equitable access for candidates and political parties. For example, when there is a system of paid for political advertising, all candidates should receive the same treatment and have access to advertising space under the same conditions as every other candidate. The concept of due impartiality does not mean that broadcasters cannot provide critical coverage of the candidates and parties, but they should seek to provide different views, present facts and clearly distinguish between news and editorial positions.
- The right of political parties and candidates to have access to government media receives powerful support form the strong prohibition of discrimination, including on grounds of political opinion, under international law. Paragraph 1 of Article 2 of the [ICCPR] declares that governments are obliged both to refrain from discrimination concerning matters that would affect the enjoyment of fundamental rights: 'Each state party to the present Covenant undertakes to respect and to ensure to all individuals within this territory and subject to its jurisdiction the rights recognized in the present Covenant, without distinction of any kind, such as race, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.' Other human rights treaties impose similar obligations. Thus, if a government-controlled media outlet provides air time to the ruling party, either by way of time for direct statements or by way of news coverage, then it is obliged to devote equitable amounts of time to competing political parties on a non-discriminatory basis (emphasis added).
- Regulation of equal treatment and access to media may be regulated in a country's law on media or public information. Additionally, the law may only provide general statements on equal treatment and access and may delegate authority for promulgating the specifics of implementation to an administrative body such a specialized media commission. … The law and its implementation should not give an undue advantage to any particular political party or candidate.
- In addition, Paragraph 7 requires that political parties and candidates have unimpeded access to the media on a non-discriminatory basis.
- Fair media access implies not only equality of time and space allotted, but also attention to the hour of broadcasting (i.e. prime-time versus late broadcasting) and the placement of printed advertisements (i.e. front page versus back page). Fair media use implies responsibility on the part of all persons or parties delivering messages or imparting information via the mass media (i.e. truthfulness, professionalism and abstaining from false promises or building of false expectations).
- Political parties and candidates should be provided access to media and equal treatment in media owned or controlled by the state so that voters can be informed of political platforms, views, and goals in a fair and unbiased manner. This covers all forms of the media, including radio, television, newspapers, and evolving forms of media such as the Internet.
- There is a growing weight of decisions by national tribunals on the right of opposition parties to access to the government media. There is a clear trend towards recognizing that governments have an obligation to ensure such access.
- Opposition parties should…be given equal opportunity and agreed upon time and space on the state-owned media to put their announcements and broadcasts and advertisements.
- With these broad principles in mind, the Special Rapporteur wishes to emphasize that in pre-election periods…Media inform the public about the political parties, candidates, campaign issues and voting processes; government media are balanced and impartial in election reporting, do not discriminate against any political party or candidate in granting access to air time and ensure that news, interview and information programmes are not biased in favour of, or against any party or candidate.
- In summary, the commitments require states to: ensure unimpeded access to the media on a non-discriminatory basis.
- Political parties and candidates should be able to freely express their campaign messages.
- ...[A]ccess to the media in modern society is self-evidently crucial to the dissemination of party platforms and programmes.
- In modern-day democracies, it is also important to ensure that the candidates or parties are accorded sufficiently balanced amounts of airtime and space for political advertising (CDL-AD(2003)023rev, I.2.3). Equal access to the public media should also be given to the supporters and opponents of the proposal in referendums (CDL-INF(2001)010, CDLAD(2005)028).
- Political parties and candidates have the right of access to the state/publicly owned media, particularly the broadcast media, during the election campaign.
- The level playing field metaphor is used to describe a process that protects equal treatment and fair opportunity. It is evaluated by considering, among other issues: (1) the degree to which competitors are afforded equitable access to…media access and news coverage.
- OSCE commitments on democratic elections require that no legal or administrative obstacles stand in the way of unimpeded access to the media on a non-discriminatory basis for all political groups and individuals wishing to participate in the electoral process.
- Ensure that [political parties] have fair and equal access to the media in practice as well as in theory and are able to make their candidates known.
- Access to the media by parties and candidates may be regulated in a country's law covering the media or public information rather than in the election law. Media law may only provide general statements on access and delegate authority for promulgating the specifics of implementation to an administrative body such as a specialized media commission.
- Nondiscriminatory access to media should also be guaranteed to all political parties and candidates in compliance with Article 2(1) of the ICCPR, which guarantees the rights established in the Covenant “without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status”. Restrictions imposed on media access should also comply with the requirements of legality, necessity and proportionality under Article 19(3).
- In order to secure a diverse and pluralistic political process which is hospitable to candidates and parties from across the political spectrum, States should: (…) (c) Put in place measures to ensure that all political candidates and parties have direct access to State-owned broadcast media services for specific times on an equal basis, which access is determined either on the basis of the previous performance of a given party or candidate or through a ballot process, and that they are treated fairly and equitably by those services.
- Campaign-related access to the media is usually determined in either the Election Law, media law or associated instructions issued by either an election commission or media institution's). Such access is usually predicated upon one or two criteria: equal access for all election contestants, or equitable access for all contestants, dependent upon the number of candidates competing or the size of a party's representation in the out-going Parliament.
- The legal framework should ensure that: Every party and candidate has equitable access to the media, especially the electronic media, to undertake their campaign.
- That no political parties or other groups taking part in the election have been subjected to unnecessary restriction in enjoying free and unbiased access to the press, radio and television to express their views to the public and that they have all enjoyed freedom to advertise and publish their views.
- Financial or other conditions for radio and television advertising must be the same for the proposal’s supporters and opponents.
- The principle of equal access to the media is widely accepted in established democracies. The formulae may vary, but the underlying premise is the same: those competing in an election should have a reasonable opportunity to get their message across.
- The regulations concerning equal access to public media differ with regard to, among other things, the types of media and media access, the amounts of time and space, the format and the timing of broadcasting as well as the whole complex of financing political advertising. Due to the wide variety of provisions, it is difficult to discuss the subject on a general level. As for many details, however, there is room for country-specific discussion, for example with regard to criteria for allocating free time. In any case, it is necessary to draw a distinction between public and privately owned media, which is sometimes not done. Private media are usually less regulated.
- Even though the human rights treaties do not expressly include the right of political candidates to disseminate their opinions through the media or the right of the public to have access to the opinions of political candidates, these rights are firmly anchored in the treaty-based rights to freedom of expression and non-discrimination. Whether the source of these rights-indisputably crucial to any genuine election-is the right to political participation per se or the rights to freedom of expression and non-discrimination is of no practical consequence. Since the right to political participation has for decades been considered controversial, most law on the matter has evolved under the rubric of freedom of expression.
- The legislative framework for elections should ensure that all political parties and candidates have access to the media and equitable treatment in media owned or controlled by the state, so that the general public can be informed of the political platforms, views and goals of all parties and candidates in a fair and unbiased manner.