‘Large-scale paid news in Gujarat’
As Assembly elections in Gujarat came to a close today, the Press Council of India said a four-member fact-finding team sent by it has found "large-scale" practice of paid news, both in the print and visual media, in the state.
"The full report about this is still being prepared and shall be submitted to me shortly, but I am informed that not only the print media but even the visual media (TV channels) indulged in large-scale practice of paid news in the Gujarat elections," said PCI chairman Justice Markandey Katju.
"After I receive the full report of the fact-finding team, I shall inform the Election Commission about it (as well as the general public and concerned authorities) and request that elections of candidates who indulged in paid news and violation of press freedom... should be cancelled," he added.
Calling it "shocking" and "very disturbing", Katju said: "This vindicates my plea for effective media regulation and punitive powers in the proposed media council for taking action against the delinquent media."
Katju has been asking the government to amend the Press Council Act, 1978, to give it more powers. He also wants the electronic media to be brought under the purview of the Act and the body renamed as the media council.
"This is indeed shocking and very disturbing as it is a heavy blow to democracy in the country. Certain politicians seem to be making a mockery of the purity of elections, and in their desire to get elected are prepared to go to any extent," he said.