Journalists Seek Check on 'Cash for Coverage' Abuse in India

The

International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) expresses its solidarity with

Indian colleagues who have been engaged in an effort to uncover the full

dimensions of the “cash for coverage” practice that came to light during

recently concluded general elections in the country.

 

The

practice was first noted during the extended campaign for the general elections

to India’s

parliament, between March and May this year. Further instances of cash payments

being used to secure favourable media coverage for particular candidates and

parties were recorded during the general elections to three state legislative

assemblies in October.

 

The IFJ

notes that some of India’s most distinguished journalists, including the late

Prabhash Joshi, Ajit Bhattacharjee, B.G. Verghese and Kuldip Nayar, have made

representations to the Press Council of India (PCI), about the threat to media

freedom inherent in the “cash for coverage” practice.

 

The Andhra

Pradesh Union of Working Journalists, a member organisation of the

IFJ-affiliated Indian Journalists’ Union (IJU), has taken note of this practice

and conducted a wide-ranging public dialogue on its implications in the

southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh.

 

The Delhi

Union of Journalists, also a member organisation of the IJU, has made a

representation to the PCI, expressing serious concern about the “use of money

power” and a “variety of machinations which are tantamount to unfair and

unethical practices” to influence media coverage during the recent elections.

 

The IFJ

notes that Professor Madabhushi Sridhar, a well-regarded media scholar from

Andhra Pradesh, has contributed significantly to the growing public awareness

of this issue.

 

In a

communication to the DUJ, the chairman of the PCI, Justice G.N. Ray, observed,

“The disturbing phenomenon of ‘paid news syndrome’ which has widely surfaced in

this year's general election is

under serious consideration by the Press Council of India and a special

committee has been constituted by the Council to gather all relevant

information about this malady.”

 

The IFJ is

encouraged by the constitution of an inquiry committee which consists of the

PCI chairman and two members, K. Sreenivas Reddy and Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, both

distinguished journalists who have worked closely with IFJ-affiliated unions in

India.

 

“The IFJ wishes

the inquiry into this abuse of media freedom all success. A credible

investigation indicating possible correctives will be an apt tribute to the legacy

of the highly esteemed Prabhash Joshi, who sadly died four days ago,” IFJ Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline Park said.

 

For further

information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific

on +612 9333 0919

 

The IFJ

represents over 600,000 journalists in 120 countries