EC worried over paid-news practice, slaps notice on Chavan

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.

PTI



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

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