News for sale in General Elections 2009
The Andhra Pradesh media must voluntarily disclose how much money they made and what is the amount of space they sold to a political party.
MADABHUSHI SRIDHAR documents some of the rates charged, and looks at the laws the media violated.
Wednesday, May 27 19:51:03, 2009
In the election just concluded, the media in Andhra Pradesh was involved in most unethical 'news selling' activity irrespective of the newspaper's known lenience towards a political party. It was not even news selling, but misrepresentation to voters for consideration. Journalists' organizations criticized this as blatant abuse of freedom of speech and expression to camouflage advertisement as news. Those who indulged in this practice violated norms under Indian Penal Code, Income Tax Act, and Representation of People Act, 1951.
Selling news space by TV Channels and columns by the print media, especially some of the Telugu news dailies breach all ethical norms[i], such as 'an Advertisement shall be distinguished from the news item, or news programme, and accompanied by the indication that it is an advertisement.'
The Media, both the print and electronic, has freedom of speech and expression as part of the constitutionally guaranteed fundamental right[ii]. The point of emphasis here is that the media persons are not the special category to have this freedom exclusively. This is to say that the media's freedom has to subserve the interests of the people's right of expression through which the governing process begins.
There are a dozen TV Channels, eight of them being 24 hour news channels, and seven Telugu dailies in Andhra Pradesh with substantial viewership and circulation. These media outlets do not try to to hide their affinities and strong political affiliations. As the largest circulated Telugu Daily, Eenadu, with two TV channels in Telugu, extends strong support to the Telugu Desam Party besides perpetuating strong opposition to Congress Party. The Chief Minister Y S Rajasekhar