Private media may be subject to some restrictions, such as equal access for all candidates and fair coverage.
- With due respect for the editorial independence of broadcasters, regulatory frameworks should also provide for the obligations to cover election campaigns in a fair, balanced and impartial manner in the overall programme services of broadcasters. Such an obligation should apply to both public and private broadcasters in their relevant transmission areas.
- 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.
- Equality of opportunity must be guaranteed for parties and candidates alike. This entails a neutral attitude by state authorities, in particular with regard to: ii. coverage by the media, in particular by the publicly owned media.
- 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.
- Some political parties own newspapers and even television channels, which are used as party mouthpieces to communicate the campaign issues of the party to the electorate. Where there are private rather than government-owned media the question of equitable access for parties and candidates arises and may need to be regulated. The acceptable international standard in this respect is that of non-discrimination.
- In conformity with freedom of expression, legal provision should be made to ensure that there is a minimum access to privately owned audiovisual media, with regard to the election campaign and to advertising, for all participants in elections.