The chief electoral officers of Goa and Uttar Pradesh, going to assembly polls early next year, have collected details of all television and cable channels and have rushed to the EC to keep a tab on "paid news" and advertisements issued by political parties and their functionaries.
The EC is specially concerned about channels and newspapers run by political parties and their functionaries, who may try to give free publicity to advance the electoral prospects of their candidates.
In a circular to the chief electoral officers, the commission directed them to constitute state and district-level media certification and monitoring committees. The charter says these committees will monitor "all political advertisements in relation to candidates, either overt or covert, and intimate the returning officer for issue of notices to candidates for inclusion of notional expenditure based on the standard rate cards in their election expenses account, even if, they actually do not pay any amount to the channel/newspaper, that is otherwise the case with paid news."
"This will also include publicity by or on behalf of candidate by star campaigner(s) or others, to impact his electoral prospects," it added.
The same procedure is laid down for the parliamentary and assembly by-elections, requiring the district election officers to obtain the rate cards immediately on announcement of these by-elections and the media certification and monitoring committee will take due action immediately afterwards.