CEC Quraishi expresses concern over paid news in elections

New Delhi, Jan 24 (ANI): Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Dr. S.Y. Quraishi on Monday terming paid news as a complex problem, said that it could be addressed by self-regulation by media and political parties.

Addressing an International Conference on "Best Electoral Practices" organized on the eve of the launch of National Voters' Day here, Quraishi said: "In our estimate, the problem of paid news is best addressed by self-regulation by media and political parties. But that is not happening. Exercise of undue influence is a misuse of media power and we need to intervene in the context of elections."

Concerning about the undue influence that paid news can create in the mind of the voter, Quraishi said: "We have constituted state and district level committees with a mix of media professionals and revenue officials to investigate into cases of paid news"

"We have set up vigilance cells that keep a close eye on whatever is published and broadcast, to watch aberrations," he added.

"We have issued notices, and started hearing complaints. In a recent provincial general election, after 86 notices were issued, several candidates admitted to the charge and included expenditure on paid news in their returns. But this again is just the beginning of what looks to be an intriguing and long struggle," he said.

He further said that the commission does not want to leave voters participation to the selective whims of political parties.

"We are seeking to ensure that voter education is imparted through specific and targeted interventions, backed by scientific research, carried out by professional agencies or institutions," he said.

"We created dynamic and proactive voters education and electoral participation wing that would initiate scientifically planned interventions preceded by a comprehensive survey of knowledge, attitude, behaviour and practices among voters, prior to elections," he added. (ANI)

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