Print Media Current Affairs - 2019
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The Press Council of India (PCI) has issued the guidelines for the media to give objective reports about the election and cautioned it against the phenomenon of paid news. The guidelines call for:
- Newspapers are not expected to indulge in unhealthy election campaigns, exaggerated reports about any candidate or party during the elections.
- PCI cautioned the press to eschew reports which tend to promote feelings of enmity or hatred between people on the grounds of region, religion, race, caste, community or language.
- The press should refrain from publishing false or critical statements in regard to the personal character and conduct of any candidate or in relation to the candidature or withdrawal of any candidate or candidature, to prejudice the prospects of that candidate in the elections.
- PCI cautioned against publishing unverified allegations against any candidate or party.
- Whenever the newspapers publish pre-poll surveys, they should take care to preface them conspicuously by indicating the institutions which have carried on such surveys, the individuals and organisations which have commissioned them, the size and nature of sample selected and the method of selection of the sample for the findings.
- PCI has also asked the media to guard against paid news which is defined as “any news or analysis appearing in any media (print & electronic) for a price in cash or kind as consideration.”
The PCI has also urged the authorities that rules and orders regulating the entry of the media persons to places of election should be notified and the cut-off date for applying for passes should be given due and advance publicity.
The Election Commission of India has sought an amendment to the Representation of People Act 1951 to prevent print media, social media and other digital platforms from carrying political advertisements in the last 48 hours before the polling begins.
Why the amendment is necessary?
Section 126 of the Representation of People Act 1951 prevents electronic media from airing any political advertisements in the silent period (48 hours before polling begins),
The Election Commission has also made it mandatory to seek pre-certification of the campaign material to be published in newspapers during the 48 hours.
But the Social media platforms which are have gained huge prominence for their ability to influence election outcomes, are completely out of the purview of the pre-screening and prohibition rules.
The committee headed Deputy Election Commissioner Umesh Sinha had noted that an anomalous situation exists in Section 126 of having differential treatment to print media as compared to other media platforms.
The committee noted that while Section 126 explicitly bans television channels from broadcasting political matter during the silent period, lack of backing by law has led to Print media carrying political advertisements during the silent period despite the curbs imposed by the EC
What are the amendments sought?
The Election Commission of India has written to the Union Ministry of Law suggesting to extend the provisions under Section 126 to digital and print media as well. The Commission has sought inclusion of ‘print media’ and ‘other entities’ within the ambit of Section 126 (1) (b). The other entities would refer to all social media formats.