Paid news phenomenon bothersome: Poll panel head

August 23rd, 2011 - 11:35 pm ICT by IANS  

Panaji, Aug 23 (IANS) The phenomenon of ‘paid news’ is bothersome and should be tackled at the earliest, Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) S.Y. Quraishi said here Tuesday.

Speaking to reporters after taking stock of electoral preparations in the state, which is scheduled for polls sometime next year, the CEC also said that ethical and legal issues about whether paid news takes the “voter for a ride” needs to be examined and addressed by a specific law.

“Paid news has been bothering everyone. Journalists are upset with the medium, but some media houses have interests in the phenomenon,” Quraishi said, adding that a “wider issue of deception of voters” by advertising in the media in the guise of news needed to be examined at the earliest.

Quraishi also said that recent experiments by the Election Commission to appoint media monitoring committees in the last state assembly polls in Bihar had stemmed the tide somewhat, but a lot needed to be done.

“There were 86 notices issued during the Bihar elections as far as paid news was concerned and nearly all the candidates confessed to paying money for news matter,” Quraishi said.

The CEC further said that the scourge of paid news was further compounded in cases where candidates or political parties themselves owned news channels. “We have tried out the concept of expenditure ceiling to limit election related spending in TV channels to some extent,” he said.

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