Saturday, January 23, 2010

paid news edtiors guild meets election commission

23 Jan 2010


From Our Delhi Bureau

NEW DELHI: Deploring the growing trend of political advertisements
purveyed as news, Editors Guild’s has urged the Election Commission to
take strong action against both candidates and media persons who
violate the disclosure norms of election expenditure in regard to
media publicity.

A guild delegation, led by its president Rajdeep Sardesai, submitted a
memorandum to the commission on Friday expressing the guild’s grave
concern over the “paid news” phenomenon. It cited several recent
investigative reports which highlight the prevalence of this
pernicious practice.

Sardesai said the guild is worried that this dangerous trend will
erode public faith in credibility and impartiality of journalists in
news reporting. Moreover, he said it also vitiated the poll process
and prevented a fair election, since richer candidates who could pay
for their publicity had a clear advantage.

Chief Election Commissioner Navin Chawla said the commission did not
have a mechanism to monitor the candidates in all 543 Lok Sabha
constituencies, but it will probe a few candidates to serve as a
warning to others.

His colleague Election Commissioner S Y Qureshi added that the notice
served to Maharashtra chief minister Ashok Chavan in the recent
Maharashtra assembly elections will serve as a test case to
demonstrate the commission's commitment to tackle the growing malaise
of "paid news." Chavan has to reply by February the charge that he
paid newspapers for favourable publicity.

Referring to the guild's pointer that the expenditure ceiling for
candidates was not realistic, the CEC said it was not in the Election
Commission's hands as the limit is fixed by Parliament.

He said the commission has already received several complaints on the
issue of paid news. One grievance was that candidates sometimes got
blacked out by unscrupulous publications, unless they paid up. Others
complained that well-heeled candidates who could pay the corrupt media
get write-ups in their favour.

The Guild delegation included Coomi Kapoor, Mannini Chatterjee and Seema Chisti.


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