New Delhi: Amid concerns over the growing menace of "paid news" during elections, a Committee of the Press Council of India has suggested drafting of fresh guidelines to define it and put in place a system to appoint media observers during polls.
The Committee, appointed by Press Council chairman Markandey Katju ahead of the Gujarat elections, has in its report said that it should take the initiative in this regard especially in view of the general elections in the country due in 2014.
The four-member Committee, which was asked to scrutinise incidents of paid news in Gujarat elections, has also called for issuing notices to news publications indulging in suspected cases of "paid news" after it submits its final report.
"The PCI should take the initiative and draft revised guidelines on what could be described as Paid News for the benefit of the EC and its officials," the panel said in its report submitted today.
It said the issue of paid news needs to be "revisited" again by the PCI. "It is recommended that a broad-based PCI Committee with the authority to co-opt experts drawn from various fields should be immediately constituted to look into the various aspects of paid news, in view of the pending elections in various States and the General election in 2014," it said.
The Committee said like election observers, appointed by the Election Commission, there should be media observers, comprising senior journalists from outside the concerned states going to polls.
"Media Observers be stationed periodically in the concerned state from the time the Code of Conduct begins till the final day of voting," the panel suggested to PCI.
It said the Council should have a mechanism to have a list of journalists to be appointed media observers in regions other than their own, who should be accessible to all stakeholders for identifying "paid news".
Going by its experience in Gujarat polls, the panel also suggested close monitoring of media-centres of parties during polls, holding that such centres were used to establish "most likely nexus" for "favourable" reports both in the media.