EC issues stricter guidelines on paid news ahead of polls

New Delhi: The Election Commission today issued stricter guidelines for tackling 'Paid News' complaints asking candidates to reply within 48 hours to notices sent to them in this regard.

The Commission has also asked the Media Certification and Monitoring Committees (MCMC) in districts and state level to decide such cases within the 48 hours of getting the reply from a candidate.

Issuing fresh instructions to Chief Electoral Officers of all states, including the poll-bound states of Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh, the Commission said in case the candidate did not reply within the specified time, the MCMC decision will be considered final.

"The District/State level MCMC shall decide on the reply expeditiously, preferably with in 48 hours of receiving of reply and convey to the candidate/party its final decision," the EC's said. Returning officers were till now required to send notices within 96 hours of the publication/telecast of the 'paid news' on references from the MCMC.

The EC is taking the 'Paid News' issue seriously during the upcoming assembly elections in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh. The fresh steps are being take to curb the menace of 'Paid News' and will cover cinema halls, besides TV channels, cable networks and radio including private FM channels.