Plenty of paid news cases during recent polls: Soni
The recently-concluded assembly elections in five states saw plenty of cases of paid news which are being looked into, information and broadcasting minister Ambika Soni has said.
"During the recently-held elections too, reports are being gathered and there are lots of them, paid news was resorted to or catered to," she said adding that the practice which has grown especially since 2009, was not limited just to election time.
"(Paid news) is something which weakens the freedom of the media, and all who argue for it," Soni said.
The minister also expressed serious concern at the mushrooming and unregulated growth of media training schools across the country and said many complaints have come in. Soni said the government is working out a set of guidelines for such schools to follow.
"I wrote to the HRD minister that something must be done about the mushrooming of these media training schools. A committee is being formed which will lay down ground rules which these institutes will have to follow," she said.
The committee would comprise of key stakeholders associated with the issue.
On the issue of governmental regulation and self-regulation in the electronic and print media, Soni expressed confidence that a consensus would soon emerge.
Last week, Press Council of India chairman Markandey Katju too warned media persons, candidates and election authorities of strong action if they were found indulging in the malpractice of paid news.
"I have been receiving complaints from several quarters that in the ongoing elections in five states, the malpractice of paid news is widespread...which is a blot on democracy... (that) will subvert parliamentary democracy in the country, unless ruthlessly stamped out," he had said.