How the BBC reports polling day

BBC Radio election night in 2015

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BBC coverage of campaigns and results resumes at 22:00 BST

The BBC, like other broadcasters, isn’t allowed to report details of campaigning while the polls are open.

The BBC is required by electoral law to adopt a code of practice, ensuring fairness between candidates.

The basic principle behind due impartiality in political coverage is set out in the agreement accompanying the BBC Charter.

This requires the BBC over time to give due weight and prominence to the main strands of argument and main parties.

There are detailed guidelines on how the BBC covers elections, including on polling day, here.

On polling day specifically, the BBC (like other broadcasters) doesn’t report on any of the election campaigns from 00:30 BST until polls close at 22:00 BST on TV, radio or bbc.co.uk or on social media and other channels.

However, online sites do not have to remove archived reports, including, for instance, programmes on iPlayer.

Coverage on the day is restricted to uncontroversial factual accounts, such as the appearance of politicians at polling stations or the weather. That means the BBC is not reporting on the general election campaign until after polling finishes in Thursday’s local elections at 22:00 BST.

Subjects which have been at issue or part of the campaign – or other controversial matters relating to an election – must not be covered on polling day itself, so the BBC’s output cannot be seen to be influencing the ballot while the polls are open.

No opinion poll on any issue relating to politics or the election can be published until after the polls have closed.

Whilst the polls are open, it is a criminal offence to publish anything about the way in which people have voted in that election.

From 22:00 BST normal reporting of the general election resumes as well as reporting on the local election results, with rolling online BBC coverage overnight, as well as an extended This Week special on BBC One and an election night special broadcast on BBC Radio 4 and 5live.

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