EC issues advisory to media including websites: Exit polls can be telecast only after final phase of polling

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Exit polls can only be telecast on the evening of May 19 after the last phase of Lok Sabha election gets over, the Election Commission said on Saturday as it issued an advisory to the media in which websites and social media platforms were included for the first time.

The Commission said that TV, radio channels, cablenetworks, websites and social media platforms should ensure that the contentsof programmes telecast/broadcast/displayed by them during the 48-hour period before the end of polls in each phase “do not contain any material, includingviews or appeals by participants that may be construed as promoting or prejudicing the prospect” of any particular party or candidate.

The elections in seven phases would begin on April 11 and end on May 19.

The advisory is also applicable for Andhra Pradesh, Sikkim, Odisha and Arunachal Pradesh where assembly polls are being held simultaneously.

“… In this connection, attention is also invited to Section 126A of the R.P. Act 1951, which prohibits conduct of Exit poll and dissemination of its results during the period mentioned therein, i.e. the hour fixed for commencement of poll in thefirst phase and half an hour after the time fixed for close of poll for the last phase inall the states,” it said regarding the exit polls.

The EC said the advisory shall among other things include display of any opinion poll and of standard debates, analysis, visuals and sound-bytes.

“The Election Commission will monitor the broadcasts made by news broadcasters from the time elections are announced until the conclusion and announcement of election results.

“Any violation by member broadcasters reported to the News Broadcasting Standards Authority (NBSA) by the Election Commission will be dealt with by the NBSA under its regulations,” it said.

It also said news broadcasters must not air any final, formal and definite results until such results are formally announced by the Election Commission of India, unless such results are carried with clear disclaimer that they are unofficial or incomplete or partial results or projections which should not be taken as final results.

The first phase is on April 11,Phase 2 on April 18, Phase 3- April 23, Phase 4 – April 29, Phase 5 – May 6, Phase 6 – May 12 andPhase 7 is on May 19.

The counting of votes is on May 23.

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