PCI chief warns of strong action in paid news

New Delhi: Citing complaints about paid news in the ongoing Assembly polls in five states, Press Council of India Chairman Justice Markandey Katju today warned all media persons, candidates and election authorities of strong action if they were found indulging in the malpractice.

"I have been receiving complaints from several quarters that in the ongoing elections in five states, the malpractice of paid news is widespread," he said in a statement here.

"A severe warning is given to all media persons, candidates and the election authorities that strong action will be taken against those indulging in this malpractice which is a blot on democracy," he said.

The retired Supreme Court judge said the malaise of paid news is "a threat to free and fair elections and it undermines the foundation of democracy and shakes the people`s faith in the media. "This malpractice will subvert parliamentary democracy in the country, unless ruthlessly stamped out."

He expressed happiness over the fact that the Election Commission has already set up Media Monitoring Committees district-wise. "We request these committees to keep a strict watch on suspected cases of paid news and report forthwith to the concerned Election Commission authorities as well as to the Press Council," the Press Council chief said.