"Paid news" a serious issue, says Soni | india | Hindustan Times
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"Paid news" a serious issue, says Soni

india Updated: Mar 05, 2010 14:45 IST

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Describing the "paid news" phenomenon as a serious matter, government on Friday said the right of public to correct and unbiased information needs to be protected.

"...There exists strong circumstantial evidence of the malpractices," Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni said in the Rajya Sabha in response to a Calling Attention Notice on the issue.

She said the phenomenon of the "paid news" is a serious matter as it influences functioning of a free press.

"When paid information is presented as news content, it could mislead the public and thereby hamper their judgement to form a correct opinion. Thus, there is no denying the fact that there is an urgent need to protect public's right to correct and unbiased information," Soni said.

She said it was important that all sections of society should introspect on this issue as "it has wide ranging implications for our democratic structure."

Representatives of the Andhra Pradesh Union of Working Journalists (APUWJ) has named six newspapers, carrying numerous "paid news" stories, she said in response to the notice given by CPI-M member Sitaram Yechury.

Concerned over the trend, Leader of Opposition Arun Jaitley said there should be a regulator in the field, which should impose "deterrent" penalties on the malpractice. He said if political parties are found to be indulging in the same, there should be action against them as well.

He asked the government whether it would take steps against the problem or leave the menace of unlawful trade and business to the Press Council of India, which he called as "toothless wonder".