Anuradha Raman in Outlook:
It is not just the print media that is guilty of publishing news for cash. Television news channels are equally guilty of selling editorial space. Congress MP Sandeep Dikshit says he was shocked when a news channel in Delhi approached him with a package to cover Rahul Gandhi’s visit to the East Delhi constituency during the 2009 Lok Sabha elections.
“Imagine my surprise and shock when the reporter actually negotiated the price of Rs 2.5 lakh for an hour of live coverage,” says Dikshit. “The channel even said they would arrange the crowds.” The MP said he was equally taken aback when a leading Hindi daily made an offer for positive coverage of his campaign. “Packages for print and TV for a three-day coverage varied between Rs 12 and Rs 20 lakh,” Dikshit elaborates. “You watch your opponent misusing the media and you’re forced to part with the money. I won’t take names but everyone is involved.”
In fact, campaign managers of the Congress say money had to be spent for the Delhi assembly elections last year when a TV channel insisted on projecting a lesser tally for the Congress in its opinion polls. “The tally improved after the channel was paid off,” reveals a campaign manager. “In fact, the last three days before the actual poll dates, money had to be spent on the channels to ensure good coverage.” More: