A Group of Ministers (GoM) will shortly meet to examine Press Council of India’s report on paid news, Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni informed the Rajya Sabha today.

“The next meeting (of GoM) is scheduled soon,” Ms. Soni said during the Question Hour.

She said the GoM, constituted in January last year, could not meet before September due to reasons like pre-engagements of the panel’s chairperson Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee.

The Press Council had submitted a report on paid news to the government for necessary action.

As the recommendations made in the report on paid news has “wider ramifications”, the government constituted the GoM to examine the matter and give views for a comprehensive policy and institutional mechanism to address the issue.

“The matter is under consideration of GoM,” Ms. Soni said.

The PCI has recommended amendment to the Representation of the People’s Act, 1951, to make incidence of paid news a punishable electoral malpractice and suggested that the PCI must be fully empowered to adjudicate the complaints of “paid news” to give final judgement in the matter among others.

The report has also suggested measures to curb the menace of paid news like setting up of a special cell in the Election Commission for action on such complaints and self-regulation by media and awareness generation.

PCI has cautioned the media to refrain from publishing news masquerading as advertisement and vice-versa.

The Election Commission has also taken cognisance of the phenomena and initiated steps to check incidence of election time paid news.

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