Paid news a big menance: Arun Jaitley
New Delhi, May 16: With Delhi's AAP government facing criticism over huge spending on advertisements, Information & Broadcasting Minister Arun Jaitley today said excessive publicity has become a tool of "political bribery" and underlined the need for tackling the "big menance" of paid news.
Suggesting a link between excessive advertisements and paid news, he said paid news cannot get protection meant for the free press.
"Therefore we need to find out a way to check it...We are now reaching a phase when excessive advertisement is acquiring the proportion of political bribery," he said, wondering should large-scale advertisement with the intention of affecting the quality of reportage be allowed.
"First time the country is confronted with this. We need to see whether excessive advertisements become political bribery," Jaitley said as he called for a need to discuss how to deal with paid news, which has become a "big menace". Replying to questions, Jaitley dismissed suggestions about "censorship" on media, saying the media now is "too large".
"Gone are the days when censorship was possible," he said. When asked about the impelementation of Majithia Wage Board awards for journalists, he said it is for the management of the news organizations to implement.
"We are bound by the report," he added. Replying to questions about drought, Jaitley claimed the Modi government had done more than what had ever been done to tackle the problem plaguing several states. "In the last one year, the funds which we have released for disaster management of drought and natural calamities is the highest ever in the history... We have done more than what has ever been done.
We have not cut a single rupee from the recomendation that has come across," he said. Two back to back deficient monsoons had led to the situation, he said, adding that the country is now at "the fag end of the stressed period" with monsoon rains expected to hit the country in a few weeks.