The Indian Newspaper Society (INS) has urged the Congress president, Mrs. 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.
Mrs Gandhi had on Tuesday given the Prime Minister five suggestions to step up the battle against the coronavirus pandemic. One 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 and on Wednesday, the INS also lent its support.
The amount spent by government on advertising is small 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 Ms. 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.