Concerned over the menace of 'paid news', political parties on Wednesday called for stronger measures against the trend, suggesting that the Election Commission help formulate a code of conduct for the media.
A meeting of the leaders of political parties of poll-bound states saw demands that the EC take up the issue with media houses for formulating such a code of conduct.
The leaders also suggested that parties may be permitted to appoint 'Expenditure Agent' for every contesting candidate for the purpose of better accounting of expenses incurred.
Terming paid news phenomenon as a complex problem, the EC had earlier said it could best be addressed by "self-regulation" by media and political parties which was not happening.
"In our estimate, the problem of paid news is best addressed by self-regulation by media and political parties. But that is not happening," chief election commissioner S Y Quraishi had said.
Noting that paid news hoodwinked the enforcement of the expenditure ceiling with particular importance for a level playing field, he had said "exercise of undue influence is a misuse of media power and we need to intervene in the context of elections."
Today's meeting also saw elaborate discussion on the issue of expenditure that is incurred on account of 'Star Campaigners' and campaign by allied parties.
Addressing political parties, the CEC informed them of the new measures such as modified affidavit to be submitted at the time of nomination, provision of 24x7 control room with toll free no. 1965 in all election going states with effect from tomorrow and institution of district and state level committees to check paid news.
Quraishi also told political parties of the detailed mechanism that has been put in place for monitoring of expenditure, cash flow, distribution of liquor, food, gifts, tokens etc. during the elections.
"The Commission wanted clear understanding by political parties of the new provisions and rules so that there is no violation," he said and asked political parties to avoid cash transaction and for opening of separate bank account for election expenses for each candidate.
All the six National Parties and 11 out of 13 Recognised State Parties attended the meeting.