Three-tier committees set up by Election Commission to monitor paid news

 NEW DELHI: Following the announcement of elections to the state assemblies of Jharkhand and Jammu and Kashmir next month, the Election Commission of India on 23 October said that it had put into force a mechanism to deal with the issue of ‘paid news’.

 The mechanism provides for three-tier Media Certification and Monitoring Committees (MCMC) at district, state and ECI level.

 It has also placed on its website revised comprehensive instructions on paid news.

Necessary instructions have been issued to the CEOs of the poll going states to ensure briefing of political parties and media in the districts about ‘Paid News’ and the mechanism to check paid news. The MCMCs of all states have been trained to do their job.

 With the model code of conduct coming into effect immediately, the Commission has made elaborate arrangements for ensuring their effective implementation and any violation of these guidelines would be strictly dealt with. The Commission re-emphasises that the instructions issued in this regard from time to time should be read and understood by all political parties, contesting candidates and their agents/representatives, to avoid any misgivings or lack of information or understanding/interpretation.

 The commission attaches great importance to preparation and implementation of a perfect communication plan at the district/constituency level for the smooth conduct of elections and to enable concurrent intervention and mid-course correction on the poll day.

It has directed the chief electoral officers of the polling going states to coordinate with the officers of the Telecommunication Department in the state headquarters, BSNL authorities, the representatives of other leading service providers in the states so that network status in the states is assessed and communication shadow areas be identified. The CEOs have also been advised to ensure best communication plan in their states.

All critical events will be video-graphed. District election officers will arrange sufficient number of video and digital cameras and camera teams for the purpose. The events for videography will include filing of nominations, scrutiny thereof and allotment of symbols, first level checking, preparations and storage of electronic voting machines, important public meetings, processions etc. during campaign, process of dispatching of postal ballot papers, polling process in identified vulnerable polling stations, storage of polled EVMs, counting of votes etc.

 Webcasting, videography and digital cameras will also be deployed inside polling booths wherever needed.

CDs of video recordings will be available on payment to anyone who wishes to obtain a copy of the same.

 The elections will take place in five phases in both states from 25 November onwards and the counting will be done simultaneously on 23 December.

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