Chavan's reply sought by Feb 1 in 'paid news' case

New Delhi:Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan has been asked to file his reply in the “paid news” case by Feb 1, a senior poll panel official said Friday.

The Election Commission had issued a notice to Chavan on a complaint by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for advertising his propaganda as “news” during the Maharashtra assembly elections last year, said the poll panel official on the condition of anonymity.

The BJP, in its complaint filed along with 16 CDs and press clippings, had also accused Chavan of “grossly undervaluing his election expenditure”.

Airing concern over the trend of “paid news” at the time of voting, Election Commissioner S.Y. Quraishi Wednesday said the poll panel was in touch with media regulatory bodies such as the Press Council of India and Editors Guild of India to curb the malpractice.

“Paid news is very disturbing,” Quraishi said, delivering a lecture on “Sixty years of Election Commission” at the India International Centre here.

During the Maharashtra assembly elections, a section of media, both print and electronic, was accused of taking “coverage packages” from the candidates. In many cases, a candidate just had to pay for the coverage.

The “no money, no news” policy had affected smaller parties and Independent candidates with limited assets and resources.

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