Over 400 paid news cases detected in Assembly polls: EC

Amid concerns over growing incidence of "paid news" during polls, the Election Commission has detected over 400 "confirmed" cases during the recently-concluded Assembly polls in Gujarat.

The Commission has found as many as 414 confirmed cases of paid news and is initiating action against the erring candidates by including such expenses in their poll expenditure, a top EC official said here.

"A total of 414 confirmed cases of paid news have been reported from Gujarat during last year's Assembly polls after verification by various Media Certification and Monitoring Committees (MCMC) set up by the poll body at the district and state levels to detect such cases. A final report on the action taken on these cases from the state election authority is awaited," the official said.

The various MCMCs set up in Gujarat by the Commission had sent around 500 notices on cases of paid news identified by them.

Sources said a large number of candidates have already admitted to having paid for such news in electronic and print media and action against the erring candidates is being initiated.

The Commission will also be writing to the Press Council of India (PCI) for necessary action against media houses indulging in such paid news without calling them as advertisements.

In a first action of its kind against paid news, the Commission had on October 20, 2011 disqualified Umlesh Yadav, MLA from Bisauli assembly constituency in Uttar Pradesh after finding her guilty of getting news published in her favour during 2007 state polls by paying hefty amount to media outlets.

The poll body has termed the issue of paid news as a major problem during elections, where candidates pay up for news in their favour to present it as news in print and electronic media and has strengthened its machinery to check the malpractice.

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