Silchar: Election time is also the time for exercising restraint, caution and strict adherence to rules for holding free and fair polls. In view of the prevalence of paid news syndrome in both print and electronic media, fake news and abuses, in particular in social media, the Cachar district administration today constituted a 7 member Media Certification and Media Monitoring Committee headed by the Deputy Commissioner of Cachar, Laya Madduri as chairman. Rajib Roy, Additional Deputy Commissioner and convener of the committee, with the help of power point presentation gave detailed information about the guidelines issued by the Election Commission of India in order to keep a hawk eye on the abuses of the media. Any violation by the media will attract strict action by the ECI.
Laya Madduri called upon the members to ensure that misuse of the provisions by media, print, electronic and social, is closely monitored, recorded and then presented before the Committee for action against the defaulter or defaulters. It was necessary to go through the contents for which special set up with TVs and newspapers has to be arranged. She also advised seeking cooperation of the police and its cyber crime cell to keep a tab on abusive contents by social media like Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp.
Jyoti Lal Chowdhuy, a member, suggested the Committee should concentrate more on the local print, electronic and social media for effective monitoring. During the last Assembly elections of 2016, a local print media was found guilty on the count of publishing a news item favouring a particular candidate contesting the polls and fined as per provisions of ECI. Ritesh Pathak, representing AIR Silchar, also offered his valuable suggestions. It was decided that the MCMC would sit once a week and in any urgent situation it could hold its meeting.
It is relevant to point out that when the paid news syndrome has taken an alarming proportion in other parts of the country, northeast, in general, has been more or less unaffected. From 2014, only 5 cases of misuse of media have been recorded in Assam. This syndrome came to light in Gujarat and Hindi belts during the elections of 2007 when leaders of major political parties aired their views on sponsored TV shows and media interviews in their favour. After that, it became almost viral and eminent journalists of the time like S Nihal Singh made a scathing comment when he said 50% of the media was in the grip of paid news. The Press Guild of India and Press Council of India have been very much concerned with the vicious phenomenon but because of their being toothless wings can hardly act against the erring media.
Also read: Cachar news