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Menace of paid news continues in 2013

Source : BUSINESS_STANDARD
Last Updated: Wed, Dec 04, 2013 21:35 hrs
Sonia and family among early voters: brisk polling in Delhi

The menace of paid news continued in the elections in 2013, with 143 cases being found by the Election Commission of India (ECI), which released the data on Tuesday evening.

Data accessed by Business Standard from the ECI show that the commission found a total of 143 “confirmed cases” of paid news from nine states during 2013. Sixty-five per cent of the total cases were from Karnataka.

From the recently concluded elections in five states, 50 cases of paid news were reported, which were mainly from Rajasthan (18) and Chhattisgarh (18). Madhya Pradesh reported just one.



Delhi, Mizoram, Tripura, and Nagaland have reported zero cases of paid-news so far.

However, after the ECI released its figures on Tuesday evening, the Election Commission of Delhi has found cases of paid news and it said it was in the process of sending a report to the ECI.

In the seven states that went to the polls in 2012, a total of 1,177 cases were reported. Almost 80 per cent of all cases were reported from Punjab and Gujarat.

An interesting observation is that barring Assam, the rest of the North-Eastern states have never reported a case of paid news.

In terms of paid news per state (total number of paid news cases divided by the number of states where polls were held), there were 25 cases reported in 2011; 168 were reported in 2012 and 16 were reported during 2013.
 
Paid news, referred to as “advertisements camouflaged as news, denial of coverage to select electoral candidates, exchanging of advertisement space for equity stakes between media houses and corporates” has emerged as a challenge for media houses and the ECI, which monitors it to ensure fair elections are held.

Notwithstanding this definition, a comprehensive definition of paid news does not exist, as was also noted by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology. The committee has asked the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to formulate a legal definition of paid news.

Of the recently concluded elections in five states, 50 cases of paid news were reported, which were mainly from Rajasthan (18) and Chhattisgarh (18). Apart from the lone case reported from Madhya Pradesh. In 2012, almost 80% of all cases were reported from Punjab and Gujarat. An interesting observation is that barring Assam, the rest of the north-eastern states have never reported a case of paid news.

In terms of paid news per state (total number of paid news cases divided by number of states where polls were held), there were 25 cases reported in 2011; while 168 were reported in 2012, and 16 were reported during 2013.

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