PCI concerned over paid news coverage, sets up committee

Hyderabad: The Press Council of India (PCI) has voiced concern over the trend of paid news coverage reported during the just-concluded general elections and set up a two-member committee to look into the matter.

The Council warned that promoting candidates in the media for a payment could deal a double jeopardy to the Indian democracy by influencing the functioning of the press and free and fair elections.

The committee consists of well known journalists Paranjoy Guha Thakurta and K Sreenivas Reddy, a PCI release said today.

The committee based on inputs received from members of the Council and others will co-opt members from the media if necessary.

The PCI felt that in pursuance of the mandate given to the council by Parliament it was incumbent upon the statutory authority to examine the matter in its entire dimension through studies and debates to maintain the faith of public in the media and make appropriate recommendations.

"As a public utility service, the press exercises its right to inform because the public has the right to know. The press thus functions as a depository of the public trust to convey to it correct and true information when such information is being presented as news content," it said.

"There was thus an urgent need to protect the public's right to information so that it is not mislead in deciding the selection quotient of the candidates in the fray," the release added. The issue had also figured in Parliament.

The Council had received representation from a group of senior journalists including Kuldip Nayar, B G Verghese, Ajit Bhattacharjee and Achyutanand Mishra, Vice Chancellor Makhanlal Chaturvedi Patrakarika Viswa Vidyalaya, Bhopal.

Bureau Report