Paid news: Election Commission directs poll authorities to monitor media

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New Delhi, June 17 (ANI): Expressing concern over the alarming proportion of paid news in the Indian media the Election Commission on Thursday directed officials to closely monitor poll-related media reports.

In a communication to the state election commissions, the Election Commission of India described paid news as a serious electoral malpractice.

"The recent phenomenon of paid news, which is assuming alarming proportion as a serious electoral malpractice, has been causing concern to the Commission in the context of conduct of free and fair elections," the communication said.

The Commission has said that the practice of paid news has to be seen as an attempt to circumvent the provisions of the Representation of People Act which prescribe accounting and ceiling of election expenses and make exceeding such prescribed limits a corrupt practice in elections.

The Election Commission has asked Chief Electoral Officers of all States and Union Territories to closely monitor the media on the matter.

The letter asked the District Election Officers (DEOs) to constitute committees to keep an eye on media and conduct a vigorous scrutiny of various newspapers.

"DEOs should closely monitor advertisements released in print media in any form including surrogate advertising in the form of news, and serve notices to candidates or political parties where called for, so that the expenses incurred thereon are duly reflected in the account of the concerned candidate or party," the Election Commission stated.

The Election Commission said news reports about a particular candidate or a party eulogizing them, or similar news articles and reports denigrating the opponents, both intended at unduly influencing the voters will be considered as paid news.

The letter claimed that there is near unanimity to take necessary steps to put a halt to such malpractice as several political parties and media groups have conveyed their concerns on the matter. (ANI)

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