Agencies told to verify information about candidates or parties.
ISLAMABAD: The top electoral authority issued on Tuesday a detailed set of rules for media coverage of the upcoming local government polls in Sindh and Punjab.
The Election Commission of Pakistan’s (ECP) 12-point code of conduct for the media comes a day after the commission asked the media regulator, the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra), to take action against news channels, which air unofficial election results.
For the LG polls, the ECP has asked the media to verify any information related to any candidate or political party before disseminating it and to support the news with cogent evidence.
Radio or television channels and the print media have been barred from broadcasting or publishing anything that can adversely affect public opinion against a particular party or a candidate. They have also been told to avoid any remarks about the personal life of any candidate.
Pemra has also been asked to monitor the coverage given to different political parties. The regulatory body will obtain transmission certificates and details of payments made by the candidates or parties for campaigning, and forward these details to the ECP to ensure the code’s compliance.
The media would only be allowed to telecast or publish results once they are officially issued by the presiding officer, returning officer or the ECP itself.
Media representatives have been asked to obtain accreditation cards from the ECP if they want to observe the elections inside the polling stations.
If a candidate accuses another contestant of any wrongdoing, the media would try to seek comments from both sides before broadcasting or publishing such allegations.
The code of conduct bars the media from disseminating wild allegations and statements against national solidarity or that may disturb law and order.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 28th, 2015.