Paid News

  • According to the Press Council’s report, paid news is “any news or analysis appearing in any media (print & electronic) for a price in cash or kind as consideration”.
  • It has acquired different forms over the last six decades, from accepting gifts on various occasions, various monetary and non-monetary benefits, besides direct payment of money.
  • The Election Commission of India has detected hundreds of cases where politicians paid newspapers or TV channels to carry favourable reports.


Concerns / Challenges

  • Paid news essentially emanates from the fact that much of the mass media is dominated by corporate conglomerates. They are primarily interested in maximization of profits.
  • It puts out information as if it has been independently and objectively produced but has actually been paid for.
  • Emphasis on commercial considerations rather than search for the truth and hold accountable those in power and authority.
  • Paid news on politicians and political parties subvert one of the most fundamental of democratic ideals: the purity of the vote.
  • When the media itself indulges in corrupt practices, especially during election campaigns, it undermines the processes that are meant to uphold and strengthen democracy. Black money is very often involved in paid news.
  • There has been a lot of discussion on paid news including a parliamentary standing committee report on the subject, yet there is no consensus on how to deal with the problem.


Way Forward

  • Preserving India’s democratic values depends on cracking down on candidates who mislead the electorate through paid news.
  • Define what constitutes paid political news, so that Press Council of India can adopt appropriate guidelines.
  • Regulator(s) should have the power to take strong action against offenders and should not include media owners/interested parties as members.
  • Naming and shaming of media houses involved in paid news.
  • In India, a more alert citizenry can make a difference by bringing the problem of paid news to the public domain.