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Paid news: EC wants it to be made electoral offence

New Delhi: Recognising the malaise of paid news, Election Commission has proposed to the government to make it an electoral offence even as it continues to tackle it itself by monitoring the expenditures of candidates.

Addressing a press conference here to announce the Lok Sabha poll schedule, Chief Election Commissioner V S Sampath said paid news has three aspects -- print media, electronic media and expenditure by candidates.

"Since there is no law (to deal with paid news), we have made a proposal to the Law Ministry to make it an electoral offence," he said. Meanwhile, he said, the Election Commission deals with the malaise by keeping a close watch on the expenditures of the candidates.

"Election Commission is doing what is under its control. We have monitoring committees in districts and states. We add the expenditure to the expenditure account of the candidate concerned," Sampath said.

With regard to complaints about paid news in print media, he said the cases are referred to the Press Council of India. As far as complaints regarding paid news in electronic media are concerned, such cases are referred to the National Broadcasters Association (NBA), he said.

To a question regarding demands for banning opinion polls, the CEC said it is for Parliament to decide. "We never hesitate to use powers that we can. However, the issue of opinion polls is to be dealt with by the lawmakers. They have the legislative competence," he added.

The issue of banning opinion polls has been hanging fire since 2004.

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