The Election Commission of India (EC) has served showcause notices on Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president Sukhbir Singh Badal and a Punjab-based news channel for telecasting advertisements of the SAD-led government's achievements and Bathinda MP Harsimrat Badal's Nanhi Chhaan campaign without obtaining the mandatory permission.
Poll officials deployed to monitor the content of TV and cable channels, in their report to the chief electoral officer, Punjab, said the TV channel on Sunday telecast advertisements about the state government's achievements, showing Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, to woo voters in the coming assembly polls.
The poll panel has also taken notice of a news story about the Sunam assembly segment, showing development work carried out by Punjab PWD minister Parminder Singh Dhindsa.
In a separate advertisement, Sukhbir's wife Harsimrat was shown advocating a social campaign against female foeticide in the state.
Confirming the development, assistant chief electoral officer, Punjab, Raj Kumar Tangri said these advertisements were telecast without obtaining prior permission from the EC.
"We are serving showcause notices on the SAD president for violating the model code of conduct on this count, while asking the party to submit its reply in 12 hours on why action should not be initiated for not complying with the code,” Tangri added.
A separate notice was being served on the channel management for the telecast of such political advertisements without verifying whether the SAD had obtained the EC's permission, he said.
"The channel needs to explain its conduct on not adhering to the EC instructions on telecast of such advertisements and paid news. Besides, the channel is asked to immediately stop such broadcasts," Tangri said.
Earlier, Yashvir Singh, director, EC, in a communiqué to the chief electoral officer (CEO), Punjab, had said that the commission had received various references regarding paid news and advertisements on TV channels or cable network owned by political parties or their functionaries/office-bearers.
He said the media certification and monitoring committee (MCMC) at the district and state levels would monitor all political advertisements in relation to candidates, either overt or covert, and intimate the returning officer for issuance of notices to candidates for inclusion of notional expenditure based on standard rate cards in their election expenses account, even if they actually do not pay any amount to the channel/newspaper, that is otherwise the case with paid news.
'Telecast to continue'
Chandigarh: Justifying the telecast of two of its programmes that were objected to by the media monitoring committee, the news channel has said the programmes would continue to be aired. In its reply to the committee communiqué, the channel, through its legal officer, said the objections were "vague".
"We have not been able to find any specific section or specific violation that may have occurred in our shows. Nor have you quoted any specific instruction/section/provision of the model code of conduct for the media. We request you to kindly provide us details of the violation," the channel's legal officer said in its reply to the media committee chairman and additional chief electoral officer Raj Kamal Chaudhari.