BJD moves Election Commission against OTV for airing paid news

Bhubaneswar: The ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) on Monday moved Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) against a private news channel ‘OTV’ for allegedly airing paid news in favour of BJP ahead of Bijepur Assembly bypoll.

BJD leaders Pratap Deb and Surya Narayan Patro met the CEO Surendra Kumar and lodged the complaint against OTV, which denied the allegations.

“OTV is airing news favouring BJP to help the party’s candidate Ashok Panigrahi to win the bypoll in Bijepur scheduled on Feb 24,” said Patro.

He said the news channel is broadcasting the news items, breaking news, panel discussions, debates and special programmes relating to Bijepur bypoll promoting BJP and its candidate Ashok Panigrahi.

The party alleged that Kendrapara MP Baijayant Panda, the vice-chairman of IMFA and also chairman of Ortel Communication, which is the promoter of OTV, has been recently suspended from BJD for anti-party activities.

Following his suspension on allegations of filing a false affidavit, both Baijayant and his wife Jagi Mangat Panda, who is the director of OTV and MD of Ortel Communication, are carrying out a baseless, motivated vilification campaign against BJD to defame the government led by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik.

The Election Commission of India has clearly set expenditure limits of every contesting candidate and this kind of surrogate advertising through paid norms is disadvantageous to other contesting candidates, the party said in a press release.

The BJD urged the State Level Media Monitoring Cell to go through the news and programmes aired on OTV relating to Bijepur bypoll after the election notification came in force and book the entire cost of expenditure of those programmes to the BJP candidate Ashok Panigrahi.

BJD demanded the CEO to intervene and take strict action against OTV to ensure a level of playing ground for all other candidates in the bypoll.

However, OTV in its clarification said that the allegations by BJD are false and baseless.

It said that OTV has been catering the news in Odisha in a fair and unbiased way in the past two decades.

OTV does not believe in the concept of paid news, the channel said.