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Singapore

Political parties to get free airtime, subsidised livestreaming venues if GE takes place in Phase 2

SINGAPORE: Political parties and candidates will get free airtime on Mediacorp's Channel 5 should the next General Election fall during Phase 2 of Singapore's reopening during the COVID-19 pandemic, said the Elections Department (ELD) on Thursday (Jun 18). 

The Government will also subsidise the cost of venues with Internet connectivity for parties and candidates to livestream online rallies, as gatherings of more than five are prohibited under Phase 2 and most of the campaigning would likely be conducted online.

READ: No rallies, but more TV broadcasts in preliminary campaigning guidelines for General Election

READ: COVID-19: Phase 2 of reopening to start from Jun 19, social gatherings of up to five people allowed

"In view of the COVID-19 situation, ELD strongly encourages political parties and candidates to plan for modes of campaigning that do not involve physical group gatherings," it said. 

"As at past elections, campaigning activities on television and the Internet can take place, in accordance with guidelines for such activities."

CONSTITUENCY POLITICAL BROADCASTS

Each election candidate will be given three minutes of airtime in constituency political broadcasts to be shown on Channel 5.

In response to queries on why they will not be shown on other channels, ELD said the constituency political broadcasts are expected to take up a "significant amount of airtime".

"This coupled with political party broadcasts that will be carried on all TV and radio channels, the Internet, as well as the extra facilities provided for e-rallies, will allow political parties and candidates to reach out to voters with varying media consumption habits," it said.

Candidates from all parties contesting in a Single Member Constituency (SMC) will each be given three minutes of airtime on Channel 5. Those contesting in a Group Representation Constituency (GRC) will be given 12 minutes or 15 minutes as a group – a four-member GRC will get 12 minutes while a five-member GRC will get 15 minutes. 

READ: What are the COVID-19 safety measures for Polling Day? Here’s what voters need to know

READ: COVID-19: Recommended time-bands for voters to cast ballots among new safety measures for elections

Parties can decide whether one or more members of the GRC team should speak during the allotted time, and they can choose to speak in any of the four official languages - English, Malay, Mandarin or Tamil.

The broadcasts are on top of two party political broadcasts, as in the 2015 General Election, which will be aired on 19 TV and radio channels. This is up from 13 media channels in 2015, with the addition of six radio stations.

"This is to allow all political parties and candidates to put their messages out to voters, while safeguarding public health and safety. Voters are advised to watch these party political broadcasts from their own homes, and not gather in groups beyond the sizes allowed under the prevailing MOH guidelines," said ELD.

During GE2015, eight political parties that fielded at least six candidates were allocated between two-and-a-half minutes and 13 minutes of free airtime to share their campaigning messages with voters.

LIVESTREAM FACILITIES

As physical rallies will not be allowed, election candidates will have the option of holding livestreamed rallies online, and the Government will provide venues with Internet connectivity at a subsidised rate.

Candidates can apply for these venues at specific timeslots throughout the day during the campaign period, and their use should be limited to the livestreams, said ELD.

Similar to physical rallies, beyond the basic technical setup at the recording venues, candidates are expected to make their own arrangements for filming and livestreaming, it added.

READ: Sponsors of paid online election advertising have to be disclosed in tightened campaigning rules

READ: COVID-19 elections Bill passed to enable Singaporeans on stay-home notices to vote

The use of the subsidised venues is also optional, and candidates may campaign via livestreaming outside of the provided venues and timeslots. 

Further details on the new broadcasts and the livestreaming facilities will be made known after the Writ of Election is issued, ELD said.

It added that political parties and candidates may continue to make use of posters, banners and printed campaign materials to reach out to voters.

Candidates may also carry out campaigning activities on the Internet. The use of election advertising on the Internet, including through emails, on social media platforms and discussion forums, are guided by election advertising regulations announced earlier. 

They include the requirement to declare the source of funding of paid election advertising and to report the particulars of every Internet election advertising platform that will be used by the candidate.

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Source: CNA/hm

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