New Delhi: The Indian Newspaper Society (INS) has appealed to the Centre for an urgent stimulus package for the print industry amid the crisis it is facing with the outbreak of COVID-19.
INS President Shailesh Gupta shot off a letter to Information and Broadcasting Secretary Ravi Mittal saying the newspaper industry is facing an unprecedented crisis with no advertising revenue, huge input costs and import duty newsprint contributing to recession.
As the Coronavirus lockdown was imposed on Mar. 25, Gupta said newspapers have cut down their pages to unprecedented levels with many merging weekend supplements to the main editions. “Despite these measures, newspapers are losing money every single day,” he wrote.
He demanded the total removal of 5 percent customs duty on newsprint, two year tax holiday for newspaper establishments, 50 percent increase in advertisement rate of Bureau of Outreach and Communication (BOC) and 100 percent increase in budget spend for print media and immediate settlement of payment towards all outstanding bills of advertising from BOC.
Gupta also wanted the Centre to advise the State Governments to settle pending advertisements. Detailing the crisis in the industry, he said while consumers pay in full and cover the costs for essential goods like food, milk and groceries, they cover only a fraction of the cost of newspapers.
The gap is normally made up through advertisements which have drastically gone down, as industries and manufacturers have stopped advertising due to shutting of activities.
“Many small and medium newspapers have already suspended publishing and other newspapers are facing serious challenges and if they collapse, it is bound to affect the domestic newsprint manufacturing industry too. Such a situation will have a ripple effect thus affecting large number of employees, their families as well as allied industries, printing presses, distribution mechanism, newspaper vendors and delivery boys, he said.
Gupta said the Indian newspaper industry is putting in their best efforts at personal risk in disseminating news to ensure readers get essential information day after day in these challenging times.