A major new report on the phenomenon of paid news in India’s media is, well, hardly making big news.
The report, submitted to Parliament last month by the Standing Committee on Information Technology, is pretty racy stuff.
It details how newspapers, television channels and radio stations allegedly take money for positive news coverage. It relies on previous reports by regulatory bodies and fresh testimony from a wide range of media representatives, regulators and government officials.
The report, which points out that self-regulation by India’s media has failed to stop the practice of paid news, has some eye-catching recommendations. It suggests a more-powerful regulator and stiffer penalties, including criminal charges possibly leading to imprisonment, for those who accept payment for news
A Best Example of “Paid News”
In 11 March 2013 story published in “Gujarat Samachar” largest circulated Gujarati daily, it was said that Gujarat BJP Lok Sabha MP of Vadodara Shri Balu Shukla while waiting for Leader of opposition in Lok Sabha smt Sushma Swaraj in her office accessed some files on her table and lifted three-four pages that were about correspondence between Swaraj and Gadkari.
The news report further claimed that CCTV cameras inside Swaraj’s office captured this act, and later Swaraj scold the MP. Swaraj also spoke with Narendra Modi about this and Modi too scoled the MP.
Gujarati daily’s this story was later published in Rediff.Com in translated English version quoting Gujarat Samachar report, and Rediff Editor Sheela Bhatt tweeted: MP or spy?