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Election and referendum blackout periods

You cannot broadcast election ads on TV or radio during election blackout periods or referendum ads during referendum blackout periods.

The blackout period

You cannot broadcast any election or referendum ads from the end of the Wednesday before the relevant polling day until the close of the poll on polling day. This rule applies to general elections, by-elections for the state, territory and federal Parliaments and referendums. It does not apply to local government elections.

The blackout period only applies to broadcasters. Online services (including streamed content viewed on smart TVs) and print media can still publish election or referendum ads during a blackout period.

Current blackout periods

We will only list information here on blackout periods for referendums and these elections:

  • federal, including by-elections
  • state
  • territory.


2023 Referendum: Voice to Parliament 

From 12 am Thursday 12 October 2023, radio and TV broadcasters are prohibited by the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 from showing any referendum advertisements ahead of the 2023 Referendum, to be held on Saturday 14 October 2023. The blackout lasts until the polls close at 6 pm that Saturday.

The referendum advertising blackout applies to all licensed TV and radio broadcasters Australia, including:

  • commercial television broadcasting licensees
  • commercial radio broadcasting licensees
  • community broadcasting licensees
  • subscription television broadcasting licensees
  • providers of broadcasting services under class licences.

The referendum advertising blackout only applies to broadcasters. It does not include online services and print media.

Information about the 2023 Referendum can be accessed on Australian Electoral Commission ( website.


See your state or territory electoral commission for information on:

  • state by-elections
  • local government elections.
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