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Election, referendum and political ads

There are rules for election, referendum and political ads on TV and radio.

Know the rules to follow

The rules for election, referendum and political ads on TV and radio are in the Broadcasting Services Act 1992, the Commonwealth Electoral (Authorisation of Voter Communication) Determination 2018, the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918, and the Referendum (Machinery Provisions) Act 1984.

The rules in these Acts cover: 

  • access for all parties
  • election and referendum blackout periods when ads can't be broadcast
  • required particulars to be included in ads
  • record-keeping requirements
  • additional advertising provisions during election periods.

As a broadcaster, you may wish to get your own legal advice to make sure you follow the rules.

Access for all parties

You must give all political parties the opportunity to broadcast election material if they:

  • are contesting the election
  • were represented in the relevant parliament last sitting before the election period.

This rule does not apply to referendums.

Required particulars

All TV and radio election, referendum and political ads must include the 'required particulars' information.

For radio this is spoken at the end of the ad. For TV this is spoken and in text at the end of the ad.

The Broadcasting Services Act, Commonwealth Electoral (Authorisation of Voter Communication) Determination 2018 the and the Referendum (Machinery Provisions) Act outline what you need to include to meet your obligations on required particulars information.

The Australian Electoral Commission can also give you advice.


You must keep records of the person who asked you to show election, referendum and political ads, including their:

  • name
  • address
  • occupation
  • company details (if any).

Keep the records for at least 6 weeks from the date of broadcast or until the day on which the election ends  or the referendum vote is held.

Additional advertising during election periods

You can have extra political ads on commercial free-to-air TV during an election period.

Between 6pm and midnight you can broadcast an extra one minute of political ads per hour.

Read our Guidelines for the broadcast of political matter for more information.

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