Karnataka polls: EC asks media to follow its guidelines

Karnataka polls: EC asks media to follow its guidelines

New Delhi: The Election Commission (EC) on Tuesday asked both print and electronics media to follow in “letter and spirit”, particularly in the 48 hours before the polling, guidelines issued by it regarding the coverage of Karnataka assembly polls.

Voting is scheduled for May 12 in Karnataka.

Restraining the media from announcing any “result of any opinion poll and of standard debates, analysis, visuals and sound-bytes” 48 hours before the polling and till the polling is concluded, it reminded that violation of the provisions of Section 126 of the Representation of People’s Act, 1951 is “punishable with imprisonment up to two years, or fine or both”.

“The Commission once again reiterates that the TV/ radio channels and cable networks should ensure that the contents of the programme telecast/ broadcast/ displayed by them during the period of 48 hours referred to in Section 126 do not contain any material, including views/ appeals by panelists/ participants that may be construed as promoting/ prejudicing the prospect of any particular party or candidate(s) or influencing/ affecting the result of the election,” the EC said in its advisory.

“In this connection, attention is also invited to Section 126A of the R.P. Act 1951, which prohibits conduct of Exit Polls and dissemination of their results during the period reckoned from the commencement of polls and half an hour after the close of poll in the state,” it said.

It said that during the period not covered by Section 126 or Section 126A, the media must conform to the provisions of the model code of conduct and the programme code laid down by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting under the Cable Network (Regulation) Act with regard to decency, maintenance of communal harmony etc.

“It will be the duty of the Press to give objective reports about elections and the candidates… The Press should eschew reports, which tend to promote feelings of enmity or hatred between people on the ground of religion, race, caste, community or language,” the EC said.

It has also asked the news channels to disclose “any political affiliations, either towards a party or candidate” and to “scrupulously maintain a distinction between news and paid content”.