Media Certification and Monitoring Committee to keep a close watch on paid news; call 18004257030 to report incidents of malpractices

District Collector Jayashree Muralidharan on Thursday appealed to the media to ensure a level-playing field for all candidates in the Lok Sabha elections by adhering to the guidelines laid down by the Media Certification and Monitoring Committee.

Addressing a gathering of mediapersons, newspaper agents, cable TV operators, and representatives from cellular phone companies, Ms.Muralidharan said although Tiruchi district was relatively free from the menace of paid news, the committee would be keeping a close watch on the election news coverage in print and electronic media.

Paid news

Anyone could call 18004257030 toll-free number to report incidents of electoral malpractice.

She said if the committee suspected that a particular write-up was “paid news”, the cost of the space, based on the advertisement tariff, would be added to the expenditure of the candidate concerned. Repeated violation of the guidelines would attract penal action as per relevant laws.

Cable TVs

In a stern warning to cable TV operators, she said they should not broadcast scrolls that contained propaganda material of political parties. She said the licence of the cable TV operators would be cancelled if they were found to be violating the model code of conduct. She appealed to FM radio channels to broadcast audio clippings that were certified by the committee.

If any political party or their representative approached them to broadcast an advertisement that was not certified, the broadcaster should immediately bring it to the notice of the committee.

She said the committee had been mandated to issue certificate within 24 hours from the time the advertisement material was submitted to it.

Only certified audio and video clippings should be broadcast in the electronic media, she said.

The Collector warned newspaper agents that strict penal action would be taken against them if they were found to be inserting flyers and other propaganda material of political parties while delivering newspapers.

She said she had received complaints that pamphlets were circulated in some places along with morning newspapers during Assembly elections in 2011.

Bulk SMS

Ms. Muralidharan urged cellular phone operators to be careful while dealing with bulk SMS as political parties and candidates were using the medium to seek votes.

She said the content in the social media such as Facebook and Twitter was being monitored and action would be taken against the candidate concerned if there was violation of model code of conduct.

She said the State-level Media Certification and Monitoring Committee would dispose of the appeals within 96 hours.

The candidate could appeal against the State-level committee’s ruling with the Election Commission within 48 hours. The decision of the Election Commission would be final in the matter.