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Cobrapost says paid news widespread

By The Hindu

In its first part of the expose, Cobrapost carried out a sting operation against the representatives of seven TV news channels, six newspapers, three web portals and an agency.

Investigative platform Cobrapost on Monday said it had exposed several Indian media houses whose representatives allegedly showed willingness to peddle the Hindutva ideology and malign many senior Opposition leaders and Union Ministers in lieu of proceeds ranging from ₹6 crore to ₹50 crore.
In its first part of the expose, Cobrapost carried out a sting operation against the representatives of seven TV news channels, six newspapers, three web portals and an agency. The platform plans to release the next part of the operation in April. As part of the plan, an under-cover Cobrapost reporter offered huge amounts, by way of advertisements and also in cash, for running pro-Hindutva campaigns and also for defaming several Opposition leaders and Union Ministers.
Representatives of the said media houses were also offered money to “rake muck” on some prominent names in the legal fraternity, brand the agitating farmers as Maoists and also raise questions on judicial orders.
“Codenamed Operation 136, this investigation was undertaken by senior journalist Pushp Sharma and establishes Indian media’s propensity to run content irrespective of its nature to soar up their bottom lines,” said a Cobrapost statement.
The reporter promised to pay for promoting Hindutva through customised religious programmes, promoting speeches of Hindutva hardliners, running campaigns against Opposition parties and their leaders and also target certain Union ministers on various platforms.
“Shockingly, almost all media houses showed their eagerness to undertake such a diabolical media campaign,” said Cobrapost.
“First, the proposition itself is potentially violative of various sections of the Indian Penal Code, which hold publication of content of communal and defamatory nature a criminal act punishable by imprisonment,” said the statement, adding that the act violated several other laws

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