Revise paid news guidelines, take suo motu action: PCI panel



New Delhi: Noting the prevalence of unethical practice of paid news in recent Gujarat polls, a Press Council of India panel has suggested a relook at the entire issue by the media watchdog before the next general elections while seeking 'suo-motu' action against erring publications.

Press Council of India (PCI) chairperson Justice Markandey Katju had earlier set up a four-member Election Coverage Monitoring (ECM) Committee to scrutinise incidents of paid news in Gujarat elections with council member Rajeev Ranjan Nag as the convenor.

"The Committee is of the opinion that the PCI should take the initiative and upon receipt of the final report on paid news in Gujarat election, suo-motu notice should be issued against the news publication for indulging in cases of suspected paid news," the panel said in its report which was submitted today.

The Committee also held that the issue of paid news needs to be revisited again by a broad-based PCI Committee with experts drawn from various fields, in view of the pending elections in various states and the general election in 2014.

The panel also said that the Press Council should take the initiative and draft revised guidelines on what could be described as Paid News for the benefit of the Election Commission.

Apart from Nag, the other member of the team included Neeraj Bajpai, Sondeep Shanker and Kalyan Barooah and also local journalist Dr Amarendra Jha.

The committee also suggested that like Election Observers, appointed by the Election Commission, there should be Media Observers, comprising senior journalists from outside the states where elections are held.

PTI