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RTI reveals PCI paid news complaints increased 10-fold & background-based matrimonial ads are not cool

The Press Council of India (PCI) has answered a Right to Information (RTI) that matrimonial advertisements showcasing race, caste and religion, are not allowed by it, while conceding that it has no powers to force compliance.

In an RTI filed by advocate Kush Kalra, the PCI answered “no” in response to the question “are Matrimonial advertisements in newspapers/press based on race, caste and religion allowed by Press Council of India, keeping in view the mandate of Article 15 of the Constitution” - “prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth. (1) The State shall not discriminate against any citizen on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them”.

However, it noted that the council was only “empowered to warn, admonish or censure the newspaper” for breaches in its journalistic code of conduct.

The PCI also revealed that complaints of paid news had been rising rapidly over the last four years, with nearly as many cases registered already this year as in 2013-14. In 2011-12, there were only 21 complaints, followed by 10 complaints in 2012-13, which then multiplied tenfold in 2013-14 to 101.

Former Supreme Court judge Markandey Katju took over in 2011 as PCI chairman.

Paid News Complaints have been received by Press
Council of India in last 3 years. Kindly provide state wise details.
Reply: 2011-2012  : 21 CASES
2012-2013: 10 cases
2013-2014: 101 cases
2014-2015: 84 cases

The third question asked how many complaints were received against editors of
newspapers for publishing misleading information in the last three years, with complaints there seeming to have reduced.

PCI response:
2011-2012: 8 cases
2012-2013: 17 cases
2013-2014: 9 cases

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