Did you know that during a federal election, the Canada Elections Act obliges CBC to provide broadcast time to officially registered federal political Parties, even on our Radio networks? And that we must make time available for two types of political broadcasts – Free Time and Paid Time? This is considered a part of the democratic process.
While we are obligated to offer time, not all Parties will exercise their right to buy time. As a result, listeners may hear advertising on behalf of only one Party, although the time is equally available to all Parties. It’s also important to note that these ads are supplied to broadcasters by the Parties and/or their ad agencies - CBC does not create them. All ads must be approved by the individual Party’s chief agent, and as long as an ad meets all advertising rules, it can air on CBC platforms.
We know these ads can be a surprise to our audience, particularly our CBC Radio listeners who are not used to hearing advertisements on radio programs. So here’s a primer for what you can expect to see and hear on CBC platforms:
1. All registered Parties are offered specified amounts of free broadcast time to present their platform to Canadians. The amount of broadcasting time is determined by the Broadcasting Arbitrator in the Broadcasting Guidelines under the regulations in the federal Elections Act.
2. Paid time is political advertising. All registered Parties are permitted to purchase a specified amount of broadcast time for their advertising, but again, the amount is determined by the Broadcast Arbitrator at Elections Canada.
3. Under the Guidelines, the Parties can buy time to broadcast their advertising during certain times of the day. It is up to each of the Parties to decide if they want to purchase advertising on CBC Radio or TV, how frequently to run ads, at what time of the day, and in what parts of the country. CBC, in turn, can restrict advertising from certain types of programming areas, such as news. As a result, ads may be heard on, or seen during one program, but not another and only in particular regions.
4. To ensure there is no confusion between CBC’s regular political coverage and these paid political advertisements, we identify ads to Radio listeners in advance.