Panels to keep tabs on paid news

The office of the Chief Electoral Officer (OCEO), Karnataka, has set up State and district level committees to prevent paid news in the media ahead of the May 5 election to the State Assembly.

Directions have been issued to all District Election Officers (DEOs) to constitute Media Certification and Monitoring Committee (MCMC) to check paid news.

“The MCMC will scrutinise all newspapers published or having circulation in the district in order to locate political advertisement in the garb of news coverage appearing within the election period,” an official release from the OCEO stated.

It will also closely monitor advertisement released to the print media in any form including surrogate advertising in the form of news and serve notices to candidates/ political parties wherever necessary. It will ensure that expenses incurred for advertisements are reflected in the account of the candidate/ party concerned, the OCEO added.

The MCMC is headed by the DEO and comprises district information officer as the member secretary, assistant returning officer, union I&B Ministry official, an independent citizen/journalist.

The OCEO said: “The ECI has directed that maximum vigilance may be observed by making use of the existing provisions of law so that the incidence of paid news or surrogate advertisements in print and electronic media in the contest of elections are arrested. The cases of paid news generally manifest in the form of news articles/reports published about a particular candidate or a party eulogising them or similar news articles/reports denigrating the opponents, both intended at unduly influencing the voters.”

The State level committee headed by the Chief Electoral Officer will decide appeal from the district committees on certification of advertisements and examine all cases of paid news on appeal against the decision of the district committee. Other members of the State level committee are senior journalists Ishwar Bhat and Arakere Jayaram, PIB Additional Director General Venkateshwaralu, an ECI observer and officer on special duty (SVEEP) as member secretary.

Cine stars roped in

The OCEO has roped in Kannada cine stars Punit Rajkumar, Aindrita Ray and Ramesh Arvind for the Systematic Voters' Education and Electoral Participation (SVEEP) campaign aimed at exhorting people to participate in the poll process across the State.

The focus of the campaign is to encourage youth who have crossed 18 years of age to register themselves as voters and exercise their franchise. Under the campaign, advertisements involving the stars will be disseminated. The OCEO is planning to give special emphasis on Bangalore, where the voters’ turn out is comparatively less, officials said.

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