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Election Commission of India’s directives for media coverage during elections

October 17, 2013

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BHOPAL: Election Commission of India (ECI) has issued directives and guidelines regarding media coverage under section 126 of theRepresentation of the People Act 1951 duringVidhan Sabha elections to 5 states includingMadhya Pradesh. The commission has prohibited telecast of election-related issues from TV and other media during the prescribed periodof 48 hours before polling in constituencies. Violation of this may entail 2 years’ imprisonment and fine or both.

During elections, the commission has been receiving allegations of violation of the provisions of act by TV channels in the telecast of their panel discussions/debates and other news and current affairs programmes. The commission has clarified in the past that display of any election matter by means of television or similar apparatus is prohibited during the prescribed period of 48 hours before polling. The commission has reiterated that TV/radio channels and cable networks will not telecast/broadcast any material including views/appeals by panellists/participants during the period of 48 hours that may be construed as promoting/prejudicing the prospects of any particular party or candidate or influencing/affecting the election result.

During the period other than above-mentioned period, TV/radio/cable networks will be free to approach the state/district/local authorities for permission for concerning telecast or broadcast. This should be under the provisions of model code of conduct and Information andBroadcasting and Cable Network (Regulation) Act. The channels will also have to comply with directives issued by the commission on August 27, 2012 regarding paid news and related issues. The Times of India.

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