Privately-held media should not necessarily be held to the same standards as public media.
- Domestic law may also include provisions regulating how private broadcasters must behave during an election campaign, intended to ensure balanced coverage of parties and candidates. Occasionally, such regulations may also cover the print media. In the absence of such laws and regulations, however, there are no international standards requiring private media to adopt balanced editorial positions. For example, it could be expected that a political party newspaper would serve as a platform for that political party, and it would not be unreasonable for other private newspapers to endorse specific candidates or parties.
- The obligations of the private media [in an electoral context] are far fewer [than those on the public media]. The essence of a free media environment is that broadcasters and journalist are not told what they may or may not say or write. The best guarantee that the variety of political ideas are communicated freely and accurately is often understood to be for the media to be allowed to get on with the job unhampered. But this does not mean that private media have no obligations at all. Professional journalistic standards will demand accurate and balanced reporting, as well as a clear separation of fact and comment. Broadcasting stations usually have their licenses allocated by a public body. This will often come with terms attached about whether they are allowed to support any political party; what, if any, news coverage they are allowed to broadcast; and other conditions such as whether they have an obligation, for example, to broadcast public service announcements such as voter education spots.
- Depending on national regulations and laws, private media do not necessarily have the same responsibility as public media for neutrality and balance. For example, a political-party newspaper may be expected to serve as a platform for a particular party, and it is not unreasonable for a private newspaper to endorse a candidate in its editorial policy.