‘Financial censorship’: Indian Newspaper Society reacts to Sonia Gandhi suggestion
The Indian Newspaper Society on Wednesday urged Congress president Sonia Gandhi to withdraw her suggestion to the government to impose a two-year ban on media advertisements by the government and public sector undertakings. “Such a proposal tantamounts to financial censorship,” the society said in a statement on Thursday.
The Congress president had on Tuesday given Prime Minister Narendra Modi five suggestions to step up the battle against the coronavirus pandemic. One of them was to stop advertising in print, electronic and radio. The Association of Radio Operators and the News Broadcasters’ Association have already issued statements criticising the suggestion. On Wednesday, the INS also lent its support to this demand.
The amount of money spent by government on advertising is a small amount as far as government spend is concerned but it is a huge amount for the newspaper industry which is essential for a vibrant democracy, and is struggling to survive.
In a statement by Mary Paul, the INS underscored: Print is the only industry, which has a wage board and the Government decides how much the employees should be paid. This being the only industry where market forces don’t decide salaries, the Government has a responsibility towards the industry”.
In the age of fake news and distortion, “Print is the best platform to get news and views directly across to the people in every nook and corner of the country, for both - the Government and for the Opposition”.
It also noted that advertisement and circulation revenue had already declined due to recession and the digital onslaught. “Further to add to the problem, we now face severe financial crisis due to the complete lockdown of industries and business,” the statement said.
At a time like this when media personnel are risking their lives and bringing news on the pandemic situation, the suggestion of the congress president is deeply disturbing and demotivating for the entire media industry, it said, asking the Congress president to withdraw the suggestion about a complete ban on advertisements in media.