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Report No. 255

18.6. Paid News and Political Advertisements

The issue of paid news and political advertisements should be regulated in the RPA in the following manner:

a. The definitions of "paying for news", "receiving payment for news" and "political advertisement" should be inserted in section 2 of the RPA.

[Para 7.48.4 & 7.48.5]

b. The consequences attached to those indulging in such practices should be delineated by creating

i. an electoral offence of "paying for news" / "receiving payment for news" in a newly inserted section 127B of the RP.- Not only will the incorporation of this electoral offence make paying for news / receiving payment for news penal, the stringent punishment will ensure that if the candidate themselves are found guilty, then, in all likelihood, they will be disqualified pursuant to section 8(3) of the RPA;

[Para 7.49.1]

ii. a corrupt practice of paying for news under newly inserted subclause (iii) in section 123(2)(a) of the RPA.

[Para 7.50]

c. In order to curb the practice of disguised political advertisement, disclosure provisions should be made mandatory for all forms of media. The purpose of disclosure is two fold; first, to help the public identify the nature of the content (paid content or editorial content); and second, to keep the track of transactions between the candidates and the media. Thus, a new section 127C should be inserted in the RPA to deal with the non-disclosure of interests in political advertising. The ECI can regulate the specifics of the disclosure required.

[Para 7.51.2]

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