Regulators

EC finds Times Now & ABP News violating MCD poll rules, explanation sought

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NEW DELHI: Two television news channels ? ABP News and Times Now ? have been asked by the Delhi State Election Commission to explain telecast of survey results ahead of the polls for the Municipal Corporation of Delhi held on Sunday. 

Srivastava told mediapersons at a news conference that the Commission had demanded an explanation from the channels for the survey as it was a breach of the Model Code of Conduct. The results of the survey telecast on Saturday evening had led the Congress to raise the matter.

Even as the state election commissioner S.K. Srivastava said action had been taken suo moto, it became clear that the Congress party had complained as both channels had forecast a major win for the Bharatiya Janata Party. Ironically, the exit polls had also forecast a major BJP win with Aam Admi Party and Congress way behind in second and third place, respectively. Srivastava asked the two channels not to broadcast the survey news again. 

The Delhi unit of the Congress had approached the Commission against Times Now yesterday, and sought action for violating the procedures and Standard Operating Procedure of the Election Commission. Under the Procedure, no survey can be announced or published 48 hours before the closing of the elections. This particularly applies for elections held in a single phase.

An application by Congress leaders Sharmistha Mukherjee and Aman Panwar said that this "grossly violates the concept of a free and fair elections which the foundation of our democracy."

Last month, the Election Commission, noting violation by media houses of its fiat, had recommended them to keep away from publicising exit polls till a particular period during assembly elections in five states. EC asked the media not to air or publish such programmes in future so as to ensure fair polls.

In a letter to the News Broadcasters Association secretary-general and the Press Council of India secretary, the EC asked the print and electronic media to keep away from publicising exit polls or predictions about future poll triumphs.

The poll watchdog pointed to Section 126 A of the Representation of the People Act which states that "no person shall conduct any exit poll and publish or publicise by means of the print and electronic media or disseminate in any other manner, whatsoever, the result of any exit poll during such period as may be notified by the Election Commission..."

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