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Al-Jazeera: Paid News Clouds India Elections

Author: Baba Umar
April 21, 2014


"According to various estimates, political parties in the world's largest democracy are pumping about $5bn into vigorous campaigns to lure 814 million voters - a sum second only to the 2012 US presidential polls, in which more than $6bn was spent."

Last week, India's Election Commission (EC) warned the country's media houses against telecasting or publishing exit polls "by showing them as opinion polls".

The announcement came after English-language channel NDTV aired a survey showing nationalist opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its allies grabbing more than 272 of the 543 parliamentary seats in India's nine-phase national elections. The elections will end on May 12.

"In order to maintain level playing field and to ensure free and fair elections, the Commission advises all print and electronic media not to resort to the type of practise as mentioned... which for all practical purpose mean publication of exit poll while claiming that the same is only an opinion poll," the EC said in its statement.

NDTV's survey was preceded by an interview with BJP's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi on a Hindi channel, India TV. The interview drew the ire of critics, who claimed that India TV is biased in favour of the BJP. The TV station's director of news resigned the following day.

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