NEW DELHI: The Election Commission on Tuesday doubled the broadcast time allotted to recognised political parties in West Bengal, Kerala, Assam, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry on Doordarshan and All India Radio during the upcoming assembly polls in view of the COVID-19 pandemic and enhanced relevance of "non-contact based" campaigning.
It had taken a similar decision for Bihar assembly polls held late last year.
"Considering the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and enhanced relevance of non-contact based campaign, Election Commission of India, in consultation with Prasar Bharati Corporation has decided to double the broadcast or telecast time allotted to each national party and recognised state party of Assam, Kerala, Puducherry, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal on Doordarshan and All India Radio" for the assembly polls, the commission said.
A base time of 90 minutes will be given to each national party and recognised state party of Assam, Kerala, Puducherry, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal uniformly on the regional kendras of Doordarshan and All India Radio network in the poll going states and the UT.
The additional time to be allotted to the party has been decided on the basis of the poll performance of the party in the last assembly elections held in these states and the UT in 2016.
At the time of 1998 Lok Sabha elections, a new initiative for state funding of recognised political parties through free use of the state-owned television and radio was introduced.
The scheme was subsequently extended in all the assembly elections held after 1998 and Lok Sabha polls in 1999, 2004, 2009, 2014 and 2019.