An enquiry committee of the Press Council of India (PCI) has cleared Hindustan Times of charges of ‘paid news’, and recommended to the full council that the matter be closed.
PCI chairman Markandey Katju told The Hindu, “The 14-member enquiry committee adjudicated and found there were nothing in the charges. The full council normally accepts the recommendations.”
On January 29, The Hindu reported the PCI’s formal decision to ‘censure’ HT, along with some other papers, for having ‘carried news reports that were in fact self-promotion material provided by the candidates in the fray’.
These reports were published in the run-up to the Bihar Assembly elections of 2010.
On February 2, Sanjoy Narayan, Hindustan Times editor-in-chief, wrote that none of the four pieces ‘in question’ carried a politician’s quote, and reflected the voices of ‘villages and farmers.’
The paper, he had said, had done its ‘checks’ and would go back to ‘the authority’.
A PCI source said the committee ‘reconsidered the matter.’ “HT’s reply had not been taken on the record earlier. We went through the clippings, which had been alleged to be paid news and found they were factual in nature or balanced. In fact, one story was about chopper trouble. So, we have asked HT be cleared and charges dropped.”