Put ‘Paid News’ an electoral misconduct: Press Council

The Press Council of India (PCI) has suggested devising occurrence of ‘paid news’ through elections a penal “electoral malpractice” and recommended improving the applicable laws. A report of PCI’s two-member sub-committee on matters concerning to this event advised that section 123 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 be amended by Parliament to create the exercise of paying for news coverage in newspapers and television channels an act of corruption and a punishable offence. In order to remove the trend, the sub-committee recommended that PCI rules on differentiation of news from advertisements by printing disclaimers must be firmly imposed by all publications.

The committee constituting well-known journalists Paranjoy Guha Thakurta and K Sreenivas Reddy was grouped to investigate the event of paid news after allegations that advertising material of a few politicians disguised as news was being published by a few media groups.

PCI was directed by the CIC (Central Information Commission) in September, 2011 to make public the report of the sub-committee on paid news as part of suo motu disclosure mandated under the RTI Act.

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