Paid news phenomenon, a complex problem: CEC

New Delhi, Jan 24 (PTI) Terming paid news phenomenon as acomplex problem, the Election Commission today said it couldbest be addressed by "self-regulation" by media and politicalparties which was not happening.

The EC is concerned about the undue influence that paidnews can create in the mind of the voter whose right tocorrect and unbiased information needed protection, ChiefElection Commissioner S Y Quraishi said.

"In our estimate, the problem of paid news is bestaddressed by self-regulation by media and political parties.

But that is not happening," he said at an international meeton "Best Electoral Practices" organised on the eve of thelaunch of National Voters'' Day.

He talked about the need to accord priority to voters''education by election managers and increasing role of moneypower in Indian elections.

Noting that paid news hoodwinked the enforcement of theexpenditure ceiling with particular importance for a levelplaying field, he said "exercise of undue influence is amisuse of media power and we need to intervene in the contextof elections."

Elaborating on measures to probe cases of paid news, theCEC said the Commission set up vigilance cells that kept aclose eye on whatever was published and broadcast, to watchaberrations.

"We have issued notices and started hearing complaints. Ina recent provincial general election, after 86 notices wereissued, several candidates admitted to the charge and includedexpenditure on paid news in their returns. But this again isjust the beginning of what looks to be an intriguing and longstruggle," he said. (More) PTI MS

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