New Delhi, May 11: In the backdrop of several political parties launching their own TV channels for publicity during elections, the Election Commission is working on guidelines for the electronic media to ensure a level playing field.
"In some of the states which went to polls, most of the channels are owned by political parties," Chief Election Commissioner S Y Quraishi said adding this would deny other parties a level playing field in the elections.
He noted that television channels owned by political parties would change the complexion as they do not have to buy space on other channels.
"We are also examining whether using your own channel for unlimited publicity, how to account for (expenses). We are examining. Before the next elections, we will have some policy in place," the CEC told reporters.
Describing it as a "complicated" issue, Election Commissioner V S Sampath said that the issue has been engaging the attention of the Commission. "We are considering it and some guidelines are being evolved. We don't want to do anything in a haste," he said.
The Election Commissioner's observation assumes significance as the ruling DMK in Tamil Nadu owns Kalaignar TV and is being supported by Sun TV. AIADMK party owns Jaya TV, film star Vijaykanth has Captain TV, Congress leader Thangkbalu's Mega TV and PMK has Makkal TV.
Noting that paid news was a challenge before the Commission, Quraishi said that there should be a "self-regulation" by the media and political parties and candidates.
"Definition and identification of paid news needs to be concrete," the CEC said.
On the issue of criminalisation of politics, he favoured that the persons with criminal background should be debarred from contesting elections.
Replying to a question on the paper backup in the EVMs, Quraishi said that the two public sector companies BEL and ECIL have been asked to develop the system which would be examined by the Commission's Expert Committee.
He said that the Committee would test the paper trail backup for several times in various weather conditions so that the machines prove their worth before they are put to use.
"Hopefully by next elections," he said when asked whether the paper trail in the EVM would be implemented in the next elections.
The CEC said that the EC would take a final call after its technology was proved completely.
Asked whether the EC would go in for internet-based voting, Quraishi said that there was no such proposal before the Commission.
"It is out of question and not feasible," he said referring to the complaint about possible hacking of the EVMs.
Replying to a question on funding of political parties, he said that the Commission favoured accountability and transparency in the political funding.
He said that political funding should be through cheques and audited by CAG approved auditors. He also suggested that the accounts should be put on the website. PTI