The I&B ministry has proposed strict penalties for newspapers carrying paid news. In case of a first-time offender,DAVP ads are proposed to be suspended for 30 days. If there is a repeat offence,then government ads will not be given for 60 days and in case of a third offence,the newspaper would lose its licence.
We have proposed changes in the Press and Registration of Books Act to crack down on paid news. Should the Press Council of India find merit in the allegations,then the offending newspaper would first forego DAVP ads and then if there is a third offence,we will cancel its licence. The proposal is being vetted by the law ministry, said I&B minister Manish Tewari Wednesday.
According to figures tabled by the ministry in the Lok Sabha last week,PCI received two complaints of paid news in 2010-11, 29 during 2011-12 and 10 in 2012-13. The bulk remained unresolved because complainants chose not to pursue the matter. Even complaints in which proceedings happened,there was little more than a censor the newspaper was subjected to.
In 2013,during the Karnataka Assembly elections,there were 93 instances of paid news. In the Punjab elections in 2012,a whopping 523 cases of paid news were detected and a notice was issued to candidates in 339. Tewari clarified that the EC,if it detects paid news,sends it to the PCI for action.