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Election Commission urges media to shun paid news in new guidelines

NEW DELHI: In order to have a neutral and objective coverage of the elections, the Election Commission of India has issued a ‘Handbook for Media’. The guidelines for news coverage span across TV, print and, for the first time, social media.

Noting that the media facilitates transparency and informed choice through debates and analysis, the EC has urged the media to exercise “utmost restraint” and “shun paid news”, while covering the elections for the Lok Sabha.

The Handbook, which was released on Tuesday, reads: “The commission seeks to facilitate the legitimate role of media in elections. At election time it becomes imperative that the media provides people with all information necessary to make informed choices.”

The guidelines for new media include disclosure of Twitter, Facebook and other social media accounts as well as campaigning expenditure incurred through the Internet.

“This includes payment made to internet companies and websites for carrying advertisements and also campaign related operational expenditure on making of creative content,” the EC Handbook states.