Meeting on 5 May 1999
On item 2 of LC Paper No. CB(2)1838/98-99(01) -
to advise the meaning of "other periodical" referred to in section 75(1) of the Representation of the People Act 1983 of UK; and
to provide similar information in respect of other overseas jurisdictions.
We are not aware of any legal definition of "other periodical" in the electoral laws of UK.
We do not find any restriction on media commentaries relating to candidates in these countries : Australia, Canada, Germany, Japan and Singapore. According to section 100.7(b)(2) of the Code of Federal Regulations of the United States, "any cost incurred in covering or carrying a news story, commentary, or editorial by any broadcasting station (including a cable television operator, programmer or producer), newspaper, magazine, or other periodical publication is not a contribution unless the facility is owned or controlled by any political party, political committee, or candidate."
To consider members' view that section 75(1) of the Representation of the People Act 1983, with suitable modifications, should be adopted in the Bill.
With our proposed amendment to the definition of election advertisement, whether or not a commentary is an election advertisement will depend on the purpose test. We consider that this test can strike a balance between fair elections and freedom of speech.
Constitutional Affairs Bureau
19 May 1999