New Delhi : With Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) seeking Election Commission’s intervention to prevent airing of “fake” sting operations ahead of polling in Delhi, the poll watchdog on Friday drew attention to News Broadcasting Standards Authority’s (NBSA) guidelines on election broadcasts, requiring news broadcasters to avoid all forms of rumour, baseless speculation and disinformation against political parties and candidates.
The norms issued by NBSA on March 3, 2014, and reiterated by the EC in its note of January 15, 2015, state that news broadcasters must endeavour to avoid all forms of rumour, baseless speculation and disinformation, particularly when these concern specific political parties or candidates. “Any candidate/political party, which has been defamed or is a victim of misrepresentation, misinformation or other similar injury by broadcast of information should be afforded prompt correction, and where appropriate, granted an opportunity of reply,” state the guidelines.
As per the norms, EC shall monitor news broadcasts during the election process and report any violation to NBSA, which will then be dealt by the latter under its regulations.
Chief Election Commissioner H S Brahma said the NBSA guidelines provide political parties and candidates a forum to complain about poll-eve “fake” stings and seek an immediate restraint on their broadcast. “The EC on January 15 reiterated the poll broadcast guidelines of NBSA for the electronic media and that of the Press Council of India for print media. No further action by the Commission is required,” he stated.
Incidentally, the Press Council’s guidelines for election reporting by the print media restrain newspapers and magazines, etc. from publishing false or critical statements in regard to the personal character and conduct of any candidate as to prejudice his/her election prospects. “The Press shall not publish unverified allegations against any candidate/party,” the norms state unambiguously.
AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal had on Wednesday alleged that a senior leader of a rival party was aspiring to plant “fake” stories against some AAP candidates just ahead of polling on February 7. He recalled how a set of “false” poll-eve stings were aired against six of its candidates last year, marring their electoral prospects