Paid News- A menace to free and fair election - Seeker's Thoughts

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Paid News- A menace to free and fair election

Paid News 

Paid news is a phenomenon in Indian Media, that refers  to systematic engagement of mainstream media outlets in publishing favorable articles in exchange for payments.
In simple terms Media outlets favor one particular party for some payment.

The issue- The election commission of India (ECI) holds that paid news or analysis appearing in any media for a price of cash or for some other reward plays a significant role in the context of free and fair elections.  It also involves under reporting of election expense.
Various incidents associated with different parties have been found which included the name of three leading Hindi newspaper.
As per report of The Indian Express, Madhya Pradesh saw the third highest number of paid news cases among the 22 states during assembly elections held between 2010 to 2013. Punjab and Gujarat has the worst number.
Election commission has written about it the Union government about paid news and suggested that paid news should be treated as electoral offence under RPA. Law Commission report from 2015 also recommends amending to this affect.
What does the law say?
There is no specific law to deal with paid news in Indian constitution, however, under section 10 of Representation of people’s Act , deals with misreporting of funds.
But the same Representation of People’s Act has section 77, which has provision of political advertisement.
What should be done?
There should be a law against the paid news. The news analyses can be misleading and hamper free and fair elections. People tend to trust the articles, which may again lead to a psychological manipulation of the crowd.
The government should avoid considering it as the press regulations, it is a poll regulation.
The Registration of Newspaper and Publication Bill 2013 was introduced, but later on some other provisions were included in the bill, which included the suspension of publication for a periods of 45 days.