New Delhi : The government has constituted a ministerial panel headed by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee to look into the issue of “paid news” and suggest remedial measures that could include imposing penalty on media houses indulging in such practices, sources said Friday.
The group of ministers, according to official sources, will seek opinions of media experts to suggest a policy and mechanisms to tackle the issue, the sources said.
The panel would also call for suggestions from the industry and study a recent report by the Press Council of India on paid news, the sources said.
Home Minister P. Chidambaram, Law Minister M. Veerappa Moily, Urban Development Minister S. Jaipal Reddy, Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar and Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal are the other members of the panel.
The sources said that the government is seriously looking into the issue as the Election Commission of India had also expressed its concerns at a meeting with political parties called to discuss it.
Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni had asserted that the government was looking into the issue of paid news with utmost seriousness.
The issue first came to light ahead of the 2009 general elections when certain media outlets were alleged to have accepted cash from some political parties to promote them.
A Press Council of India team had conducted the inquiry and submitted the report suggesting that the phenomenon had been going on over the years as certain media organisations had sacrificed ethical norms for profits.