"For the first time, such a nationwide drive has been undertaken by the EC to prevent electoral malpractices, educate the media in particular and help its directives percolate up to ground level to ensure free and fair poll," state’s Assistant Chief Electoral Officer Amit Jyoti Bhattacharya said .

The workshop would be held on March 4 in collaboration with the state’s Information and Cultural Affairs Department and the Press Information Bureau (PIB), Bhattacharya added.

West Bengal Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Sunil Gupta said that the day-long deliberation and interaction would go into the details of the entire election process ‘to ensure how we can make it free, fair and incident-free’.

Similar workshops had already been conducted by the EC for nine recognized political parties in the state, he said.
 
"Besides paid news, the workshop will deal with subjects like media monitoring operations, certification committees, Model Code of Conduct and Sections of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 that deals with restrictions on publishing election-related news," said Bhattacharya.

On behalf of the Election Commission, the state’s Information and Cultural Affairs Department would invite two journalists each from all media houses, who are accredited to the state government, for participating in the day-long session, he said.

The Election Commission will also set up state and district level media certification and monitoring committees to check instances of paid news ahead of the upcoming polls.

(Agencies)

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