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Media, parties to cease campaign output before election day

Published:Monday | February 22, 2016 | 12:00 AM
Dorothy Pine-McLarty
Hopeton Dunn

The Broadcasting Commission of Jamaica (BCJ) and the Electoral Commission of Jamaica (ECJ) have sent out an appeal for political parties as well as the electronic and print media to ensure that citizens are allowed "a period of quiet reflection" ahead of the opening of polls for the February 25 general election.

In making the request, the BCJ and the ECJ noted in a statement yesterday that such voluntary arrangements were successfully adopted in the last general election in 2011.

Although equivalent parliamentary amendments to the Representation of the People Act were approved, the arrangements have not yet come into legal effect.

"The two commissions, therefore, expect full voluntary cooperation from all concerned," they said.

"Under these arrangements, all television, radio, and cable operators, as well as newspapers will cease transmission or publication of political broadcasts (including political advertisements) 24 hours before the start of voting on election day."

Similarly, the commissions said no results of any new opinion polls or of any unscientific surveys are to be released within 48 hours of the start of voting.

This means that all electronic media organisations will stop carrying political campaign broadcasts and advertisements from midnight tonight, through to the opening of polls at 7 a.m. on Thursday.

For newspapers, this means that no campaign ads will appear in the February 24 and February 25 editions.

Regarding the results of public opinion polls or unscientific opinion surveys, these will not be released at any time after February 23 - that is within 48 hours of the start of voting.

A related understanding was arrived at between the ECJ and all major political parties under which political campaigning would cease islandwide by midnight on Tuesday.

Professor Hopeton Dunn, the chairman of the BCJ, and Dorothy Pine-McLarty, chairman of the ECJ, expressed thanks and commendation to the media houses and political parties for entering into the voluntary arrangements in the public interest.