Government awaiting report on paid news: Soni

New Delhi: Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni said Friday that her ministry was awaiting a report from the Press Council of India (PCI) on the issue of paid news.

“The secretary (of information and broadcasting ministry) has sent a reminder to the PCI to give the report as early as possible,” Soni said during an interaction with media persons here.

The PCI, a statutory media watchdog, has set up a two-member committee following complaints regarding paid news.

The minister said she had met PCI chairman Justice (retd) G.N. Ray in April and the council held a meeting later in the month to discuss the report.

Answering queries, she said all members of PCI had not signed the report but added that it was not due to dissent.

Soni said she had assured the Rajya Sabha during a discussion on paid news during the budget session that the PCI report will be tabled in parliament and the government will formulate its response to tackle the problem, based on the suggestions of members.

She said the Election Commission had already asked its officials in states to keep watch on media in connection with paid news.

In a directive issued earlier this month, the poll panel said that committees should be constituted by the district election officers, as soon as an election was announced, to vigorously scrutinise all newspapers, published from or having circulation in the district, to locate political advertisements in the garb of news coverage appearing within the election period.

The government has termed paid news a serious matter as it influences the functioning of a free press.

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