Guidelines to deal with paid news ahead of elections

NEW DELHI: There is some amount of seriousness in tackling the issue of paid news. The Election Commission has issued guidelines to the Chief Electoral Officers of all the states and Union Territories to deal with candidates? advertisements on television channels owned by political parties or their functionaries and office bearers during elections. These will come into effect immediately.

The latest guidelines have been issued to bring better uniformity in dealing with such instances even when no consideration of cash and kind is involved in extending campaign publicity to candidates.

The guidelines say that six months before the due date of expiry of Lok Sabha or the State/UT Legislative Assembly, as the case may be, a list of television channels, radio channels and newspapers circulated in the State and Union Territory and their standard rate cards shall be obtained by the CEOs and forwarded to the Commission.

The latest guidelines were issued on 16 August to put in place a mechanism to deal with the problems of ?paid news?. The Commission had earlier issued guidelines on 8 June 2010, 23 September 2010, and 18 March 2011 relating to this issue.

The Commission said in a recent press note that it had been receiving various complaints and references regarding ?paid news? and advertisements on TV channels owned by political parties or their functionaries during the process of elections, thus disturbing the level playing field, as these are not reflected in the candidate?s election expenses account.

The Media Certification and Monitoring Committee (MCMC) at district and state level will monitor all political advertisements in relation to candidates, either overt or covert, and will intimate the Returning Officer for issue of notices to candidates for inclusion of notional expenditure based on standard rate cards in their election expenses account, even if they actually do not pay any amount to the channel/newspaper. This will also include publicity by or on behalf of candidate by Star Campaigner (s) or others, to impact his electoral prospects. A copy of the notice will also be marked to Election Expenditure Observer.

In case of bye-election to Parliamentary or Assembly constituency, the standard rate card will be obtained by the District Election Officer concerned immediately on announcement of the bye-election and MCMC will take due action immediately afterwards.

Like in the case of paid news, the Chief Electoral Officer and District Election Officers will brief political parties and media houses about the above guidelines before the commencement of the

election campaign.

In case of any technical doubt relating to the application of the standard rate card, the matter would be referred to the Directorate of Advertising and Visual Publicity of the Information and Broadcasting Ministry for advice.

The practice of paid news has to be seen as an attempt to circumvent the provisions of Sections 77 and 123 (6) of Representatives of the Peoples Act 1951 which prescribe accounting and ceiling of election expenses and make exceeding such prescribed limits a corrupt practice in elections.

The Commission has directed that maximum vigilance may be observed by making use of the existing provisions of law so that the incidence of ?paid news? or surrogate advertisements in print and electronic media in the context of elections is arrested.

Legal provisions under Section 127A of the 1951 Act make it mandatory for the publisher of an election advertisement, pamphlet, etc., to print the name and address of the publisher as well as printer and failure to do so attracts penalty of imprisonment up to two years and/or fine of Rs 2000/-. Section 171 H of the IPC prohibits incurring of expenditure on, inter alia, advertisement without the authority of the contesting candidate.

?Paid news? would also fall in the category of ?other document? liable to be included in ?election pamphlet and poster? and action taken accordingly. Hence, an obvious case of news reporting in the print media dedicated/ giving advantage to a particular candidate or the party while ignoring/ causing prejudice to other candidates and parties would require investigation.

Latest Reads
IBF to intervene in TRAI's SC petition on 15% discount cap

The TRAI tariff order, which remained a topic of intense debate and discussion in 2017 and 2018, is likely to dominate discourse early on in 2019 too, at least from a legal standpoint as the Supreme Court resumes work after the winter vacations.

Television TV Channels GECs
Big Synergy appoints Rajiv Bakshi as CEO

Reliance Entertainment's Big Synergy Media Ltd has appointed Rajiv Bakshi as its chief executive officer.

Television Production House Fiction
For the first time, viewers get to choose their favourite shows on Sony BBC Earth

Content may be King, but so is the viewer. Sony BBC Earth, India’s premium factual entertainment channel, takes another leap in audience engagement by giving viewers the choice to pick their favourite shows of 2018 on the channel.

Television TV Channels News Broadcasting
Shemaroo Entertainment’s Bhakti App Bags the Innovative Mobile App Award

Shemaroo Entertainment Ltd., added another feather to its cap with firm’s ‘Shemaroo Bhakti App’ winning the special mention award under Innovative Mobile App category at the Drivers of Digital Summit 2018

Television TV Channels Music and Youth
Sony Pictures Networks India delivers on its commitment of 'Ek India Happywala'

Sony Pictures Networks India (SPN) has accelerated its focus towards creating a positive social impact in the ecosystem by building on its three-pillar framework; empowerment, education and environment.

Television TV Channels Sports
English news most benefited genre in Chrome DM week 50

MUMBAI: With a growth of 1.29 per cent as compared to last week (49), the English news genre marked the highest opportunity to see (OTS) among all categories in week 50 of Chrome Data Analytics & Media.  In the English news genre, Loksabha TV gained the highest OTS with 98.2 per cent in six...

Television TV Channels Viewership
Sanjay Gupta on executing the new tariff regime, Star India’s strategy and channel pricing

Star India MD Sanjay Gupta is a veteran of many high-stake battles. The one he’s currently battling could be long drawn, unpredictable, unlike anything he’s encountered before and potentially his toughest in a while. However, as India’s broadcast bosses put their heads down to implement TRAI’s new...

Television TV Channels GECs
Star Sports curates a special line up of programming shows for VIVO IPL 2019 Player Auction

The forthcoming VIVO IPL 2019 Player Auction promises to be an unparalleled spectacle with Star Sports, the official broadcaster of the tournament geared up with a special line up of programming shows for all the cricket fans across the country.

Television TV Channels Sports
Uday Shankar elected FICCI VP for 2018-19

Adding another feather to his cap, 21st Century Fox Asia president and Star India chairman and CEO Uday Shankar has been elected as the vice president of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) for 2018-19.

Television TV Channels GECs

Latest News

Load More

Sign up for our Newsletter

subscribe for latest stories