Ofcom has ruled that UKIP should now be recognised as a “major party” alongside Labour, the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats and broadcasters are therefore obliged to give the party significant air time ahead of the summer’s European elections.
Introducing new rules, Ofcom said that UKIP’s “significant aggregate support across England, Wales and Scotland” should be taken account as broadcasters plan their election coverage.
The rules mean that public service broadcasters Channel 5 and ITV will be forced to air UKIP party political broadcasts in the run up to the European parliamentary elections, while commercial broadcasters such as Sky must give the party a fair share of editorial coverage.
However, given lower levels of support in Scotland in comparison to the rest of the UK, election coverage focusing only on Scotland will not be required to recognise UKIP as a major party.
The ruling applies only to the European elections, due to take place on 22 May, and not next year’s general election.