NEW DELHI, Feb 2: Government today said it will try to address the demands of the newspaper industry for increase in advertisement rates, reduction in duty on newsprint as well as giving more weightage to regional newspapers in terms of advertisements.
Information and Broadcasting Minister M Venakaiah Naidu, while responding to questions in the Rajya Sabha, also said that some of the newspapers are only printed on paper and he has asked Audit Bureau of Circulation as well as Registrar of Newspapers and even PIB to find out the real print order.
He also insisted that demonetisation has not led to closure of any newspaper as believed by some.
“This morning only a delegation of Newspaper Society came and met me. They made a presentation. We had a meaningful discussion. I have assured them that I will try to address the issues,” Naidu said.
Some of the issues raised by the delegation were raising the DAVP rates of advertisement and allowing public sector units to go by card rating instead DAVP rating, he said.
“Third one is the duty on newsprint etc. They have some problems and these problems have come to our notice. I have already asked my Secretary to study them even before this delegation came,” the Minister said.
He added that the issue of small newspapers not getting adequate advertisement is being talked about more than the past because the Government started scrutinising whether these newspapers are getting published regularly or not.
“That’s one of the reasons that has led to people make such complaint. Other than that, the government is committed to the policy that has been agreed upon, percentage has been fixed for all the three (big, medium and samll) and regional newspapers are also getting their due,” the minister said.
“In fact, I told my officers also that when we take up the next review that the regional newspapers should be given more weightage because they have more circulation. That is my view,” he added.
On the question of the real print order of some newspapers which are believed to be on paper only, Naidu said, “These issues are being re-examined. I want to assure the House that no genuine newspaper will be affected and whatever genuine problems are there, those will be addressed.”
He said that distribution of advertisements to larger newspapers, medium newspapers and small newpapers is done in a proportionate manner and that is being followed so that every sector gets its due.
On whether demonetisation and subsequent cash crunch had led to closure of newspapers, Naidu said, “The decline of newspaper publication and demonetisation has no connection whatsoever. I have the figures with me. There is no significant reduction in number of newspapers across the country,” he said.
The I&B Minister said as per the rules of the Directorate of Visual Publicity (DAVP), media organisations qualify for government adverisements if they take feed from news agencies PTI, UNI and Hindusthan Samachar.
Harivansh (JDU) asked about the professional background of Hindusthan Samachar and questioned whether it is linked to RSS.
“Hindustan Samachar is very old. It belongs to Hindustan. If it belongs to RSS, Congress or to someone else we don’t look into such matters,” Naidu responded, adding, “How can I compare a nationalist organisation with a political party?”
The suggestions on the changes that have been proposed by the DAVP include circulation verification by the Audit Bureau of Circulation (ABC) and Registrar of Newspapers for India.
Second suggestion is “the annual subscription to the wire agencies like PTI, UNI etc and third is annual subscription to Press Council of India and printing in its own press.. All news agencies which are accredited by the PIB, they are all allowed,” the minister said.
The Government may also allow advertisement to newspapers which may be printed through rented printing press provided the news is authentic, he said. (PTI)