The office of the Chief Electoral Officer, Punjab, which falls under the Election Commission (EC), has issued a notice to Doordarshan, asking it to inquire why the state-level Republic Day function of Punjab Governor VPS Badnore, was not given adequate coverage while a function, attended by Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, got full coverage.
Highly placed sources in the EC informed that while the Republic Day function attended by Badal in Mohali was given coverage by Doordarshan at the national level, the one, presided upon by the Governor in Patiala, was given a complete miss. A senior official told The Indian Express that strict rules had to be followed while giving coverage to a political personality in a poll-bound state and it is not understood how the chief minister was given undue importance whereas the Governor’s function was left out. “A letter has been written to the Director General, Doordarshan, asking him to look into the circumstances that led to the lopsided coverage,” said a senior official.
EC officials informed that the Republic Day state-level function is always presided upon by the Governor while the Independence Day programme is supposed to be the one that puts the CM in focus. “These are the norms followed while giving importance to these functions for publicity purpose. Our effort is to identify if there was any deliberate intention in giving the chief minister more coverage by leaving out the Governor or if this was an inadvertent error,” said an official.
The Chief Minister and Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal have already been served notice by the returning officers of their respective constituencies of Lambi and Jalalabad, respectively, for lopsided coverage on the private TV channel, PTC. The ROs have asked both the candidates to reply to the notice asking them why the coverage, which gives them more focus, should not be treated as paid news and why the cost of the same should not be included in their election expenses. Badal and Sukhbir have also been issued notices for some news articles in Hindi and Punjabi newspapers after the media certification committee found that those were biased in their favour. There again, the candidates have been asked to reply as to why the cost of those articles, going by their size and advertisement rates of the newspapers, should not be added to their election expense.