The legal framework may require media to provide voter education and air debates between candidates.
- [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.
- In this respect, the media will often be the main platform for debates among contestants, the central source of news and analysis on the manifestos of the contestants, and a vehicle for a whole range of information about the election process itself, including preparations, voting and the results, as well as voter education.
- All publicly-owned media, including public service broadcasters, should be under the following obligations during an election period: To ensure that the electorate are informed about election matters, including the role of elections in a democracy, how to exercise one’s right to vote, the key electoral issues, and the policy positions of the various parties and candidates contesting the election. This should normally include reporting that involves questions being put to party leaders and candidates, as well as debates between candidates.
- The legal framework may also require independent public media and privately owned media to cooperate in providing voter education information, if that is done under conditions that are not overly burdensome to their financial and other private interests.