The Election Commission is considering new guidelines to regulate TV news channels run by persons affiliated to political parties during elections in a bid to check malpractices.
The decision was taken after complaints of misuse of news channels to woo voters was reported from Tamil Nadu and Kerala, where all major parties run a TV channel.
Some of the measures being considered is to divide the cost of running these channels in election expenditure of all candidates of the party supported by the channel. In case, individual candidates are promoted, the cost of that campaign will be automatically added to the expenditure of that candidate.
According to officials, the job of monitoring the new guidelines will be of district-level electronic and print media monitoring committee, which the EC set up during elections. The committee will have powers to issue notices to TV channels violating the new guidelines.
Even though I&B ministry guidelines prohibit a party to run a TV news channel there is no ban on persons with political affiliations to run them.
Therefore all news channels said to be of political parties are owned by individuals.
For instance, Tamil Nadu, which has the maximum number of such channels including Kalaignar TV, owned by DMK chief K Karunanidhi’s family members and Jaya TV is owned by Jayalalithaa herself, not by their respective political parties. Captain TV is owned by actor-turned-politician Vijaykanth besides Mega TV. Congress also joined the bandwagon with the launch of Vasanth channel.
In Kerala, the CPM-backed Malayalam Communications have several channels while Congressmen have their Jaihind channel. MK Muneer of Muslim League recently started India Vision.
In Andhra, the late YSR’s son Jaganmohan Reddy owns Sakshi TV and newspaper while Reddy brothers of Karnataka also own a news channel.
“News channels owned by politicians are a new tool to manipulate electoral system....It is paid news of another kind,” a senior EC official said.