EC worried over paid-news practice, slaps notice on Chavan
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Last Updated: Friday, January 22, 2010, 18:15
New Delhi: Worried over the paid-news syndrome in the media in the run-up to elections, the Election Commission has served a notice to Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan in the wake of complaints that he allegedly paid newspapers for publishing news stories in his favour before the assembly polls.

"We have received a complaint from BJP. We have asked the Chief Minister to explain. The letter is returnable on February one. This is where we are," Chief Election Commissioner Navin Chawla told agency.

The BJP's complaint was based on an article written by a senior journalist of The Hindu daily which said that Chavan got published same 'news stories' word-for-word in his favour in three different dailies. Nowhere did the word advertisement figured alongside these stories, it said.

He said he cannot prejudge the issue and has to wait for the Chief Minister's reply before deciding on the course of action.

But expressing concern over the paid news practice allegedly prevalent in sections of media, he said "we have read Sainath's article. Today we are receiving a delegation of the Editor's Guild on the issue."

Chawla said the Commission was awaiting the minutes of the Press Council meeting held on January 15 and 16 on the issue of paid news syndrome.

"We are concerned with this phenomenon of paid news on the run up to elections. We are not the Press Council. What happens before the elections or after the elections is not in our jurisdiction," he said.

Chawla said it was important for them as to what recommendations the Editors Guild and the Press Council were going to make.

"So let me see. Let us get these two important inputs. Let us wait, The issue is not going away. I have expressed that it worries me because what would happen then that if the printed word is doubted by readers then it will compromise an important pillar of democracy.

"I cannot prejudge the issue. It would be fully improper on my part, please wait," he said in reply to a number of questions on why the EC should not be proactive in curbing this practice since it undermines the purity of the election process," he said.


First Published: Friday, January 22, 2010, 18:15

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