GoM set up to look at paid news issue

New Delhi: Taking cognizance of the issue of `paid news`, Government has constituted a Group of Ministers to examine the matter in detail and suggest remedial measures which could include imposing heavy penalties on media houses found indulging in such practices.

The GoM, which would be headed by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, would suggest a comprehensive policy and institutional mechanisms to tackle paid news, sources said.

It would primarily be looking into the report on paid news prepared and submitted by the Press Council of India (PCI).

The other members of the GoM would be Home Minister P Chidambaram, Law Minister Veerappa Moily, Urban Development Minister Jaipal Reddy, Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar and Human Resource Development Minister Kabil Sibal.

Giving more powers to the Press Council of India and linking financial penalties to a certain percentage of annual turnover of media houses are some of the mesures to be explored by the GoM, the sources said.

The phenomenon first came to light in the run-up to 2009 general elections when certain media houses are alleged to have indulged in this practice.

Since then, the matter has been vigorously debated by the Editors Guild and the Press Council of India.

A sub-committee of the Press Council, comprising Paranjoy Guha Thakurta and K Srinivas Reddy, had conducted the inquiry on the behalf of the PCI.

The report traced the emergence of paid news phenomenon over years and had concluded that in pursuing its quest for profits, certain media organisations had sacrificed good journalistic practices and ethical norms.

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