To keep a vigil on paid news in electronic and print media ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, the Media Certification and Monitoring Committee (MCMC) in Jalandhar is regularly identifying uncertified advertisements of political nature.
MCMC chairman and sub-divisional magistrate-II, Paramjit Singh said that the committee has issued show cause notices to two cable channels 'Hulchul' and 'Khabarnama' after getting a complaint that both channels have been favouring candidates of political candidates through news programmes on Saturday night. A woman, identified as Asha, has complained to district election officer about these two channels.
He said that as many as 18 complaints have been registered with the committee and it is first time that notices have been issued for showing suspected paid news.
The committee has been set up on the directions of the election commission of India (ECI).
The committee, comprising members of the district public relations officer (DPRO), Press Information Bureau (PIB), professors from various city colleges, is functioning around-the-clock from a specially-designed room. The room is equipped with television sets, desktop computers with recording systems and daily newspapers.
The committee members have been viewing programmes of political leaders, their interviews, rallies, poring over news in newspapers and listening to FM channels. They have been giving daily reports to the chairman of committee who further informs about the suspected paid news coverage.
They are maintaining a list of every political activity including campaigns, rallies, debates, interviews and advertisements of various candidates. The report cites reasons for suspecting paid news so that action can be initiated against those persons.
One committee member, on condition of anonymity, said they are also monitoring social media activities of political leaders as per the ECI instructions. He said many workshops were organised wherein they were trained about the nature of paid news.
He said that this committee was also set up in 2012 state assembly elections for the same objective of curbing paid news culture in media and many suspected cases had also been identified at that time.