Election Commission has sought “active cooperation” of media houses and journalists to deal with the menace of paid news during elections.
“Commission has taken some well considered steps to deal with the menace of paid news in elections, after persistent requests were received from media delegations and other sections of society. These will remain in force as will other laws, instructions and certain regulatory mechanism which aim at ensuring that political parties and candidates do not make use of media in a manner that could vitiate election process.
“....However, knowing the immense capacity for self-discipline of the media, the Commission feels that with some personal attention from you, there will be no scope for complaint,” Chief Election Commissioner V S Sampath said in a letter to editors of media organisations.
The CEC said as the country was approaching the national elections, he solicited “active cooperation” of journalists and media groups in “ensuring that this milestone in the history of India’s democracy becomes what we jointly wish it to be - free, fair, peaceful, transparent and participative.”
“Fair elections are about ensuring level playing field and keeping out undue influence. Needless to say, media in its various formats is perhaps the most prominent source of influence for citizens. Election Commission believes that opinion leaders like you could lead the efforts for protecting the precious level playing field during the din and bustle of election campaign,” he said in his letter.
Mr. Sampath expressed hope that media fraternity would abide by the guidelines framed by the Press Council of India in this regard.
“I and my colleagues in the Commission believe that Lok Saba election 2014, is truly a national endeavour and in this spirit we seek your support in ensuring media practices that would strengthen the cause of free and fair polls and not handicap it in any manner,” he said.
The poll panel has also proposed to the government to make paid news an electoral offence.