Paid news monitoring: EC to form district-level panel in WB
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Last Updated: Friday, March 11, 2011, 21:48
Kolkata: Following the Bihar model, the Election Commission has decided to set up district-level media certification and monitoring committees in West Bengal to check instances of paid news ahead of the state Assembly polls.

"Each MCMC would be headed by a representative of the District Electoral Office. They would work 24x7 to monitor instances of paid news," Akshay Rout, a director general of the Election Commission, told newsmen.

Stating that the EC had taken the paid news phenomenon very seriously, he pointed out that more than 100 notices have been issued to candidates during the Bihar elections for their involvement in paid news instances.

"After receiving the notices, a number of candidates admitted their involvement and agreed to include the expenses in their election expenses account," he said, adding that the EC was also looking at further steps to check the phenomenon.

He said the EC was also very concerned that paid news gave a candidate an undue advantage over his poll rivals and also violated the Right to Information Act.

Asked if the EC was contemplating formulating a code of conduct for the media in connection with the paid news phenomenon, Rout said national and regional political parties had suggested such a code during a meeting with the Chief Election Commissioner on March 9 in Delhi.

"The Election Commission has taken the request on board," he said adding, however, that no guideline would be complete without self-restraint by both the media and the political parties.

Earlier, replying to a question during a consultation with the media to sensitise them on paid news, Rout said that in its endeavour to check paid news, the EC had no intention of imposing press censorship.

Rout also held consultations with the NGOs and organisations like the NCC to seek their help in educating the voters and ensuring their full participation.

He also reviewed with Chief Electoral Officer Sunil Gupta the recent 'Knowledge, Attitude, Behaviour and Participation' survey of voters commissioned by the EC.

According to sources in the CEO's office, the EC would use the findings of the survey to draw up an intervention strategy to educate the voters and ensure better participation.


First Published: Friday, March 11, 2011, 21:48

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