NBF decries Congress president Sonia Gandhi's suggestion to ban media ads

Asks government to grant permission to consider such advertising as CSR activity

MUMBAI: The News Broadcasters Federation (NBF) has appealed to the prime minister to reject the suggestion by Congress president Sonia Gandhi for a “complete ban on media advertisements- television, print and online - by the government and public sectors undertakings (PSUs) for a period of two years”. The NBF also requests Gandhi to withdraw her suggestions in this regard.

The NBF says: “At a time when other industries and sectors are scaling down resources and expenses, we, the news broadcasters of India are facing increased costs as we provide emergency and essential service at the time of national crisis. We request the government to support the news broadcasters through all means to ensure their survival.”

 News broadcasters serve as an influential, public awareness and emergency communications system to get information on the doorsteps of the common citizens across the length and breadth of the country, especially in current times of national lockdown due to the world health emergency of COVID-19. Due to this, news television viewership has increased exponentially by 298 per cent, according to BARC, says the NBF release.

The NBF also requested the government to consider advertising spends by private and public sector companies to news broadcasters disseminating public awareness campaigns/information/publicity during the current period to prevent the spread of COVID-19, to be considered as a corporate social responsibility activity.

“The advertising revenue contribution by government and PSUs is minuscule in comparison to the overall advertising market which is pegged at less than 0.5 per cent to India’s GDP. But in contrast, the advertising sector acts as a key catalyst to create mass and expeditious awareness among  citizens, creating demand among consumers and leading to higher spending which creates employment to millions, directly and indirectly, and ultimately benefiting the exchequer in terms of tax revenue.”

“Advertising revenue forms the backbone for sustenance of FTA news broadcasters, especially at such crucial time when the operational cost has increased by more than 20 per cent, as news channels are scaling up their effort, by putting hundreds of experts, doctors, public health experts, civil and police personnel, and government officials on air in a massive effort to disseminate the right information and counter the barrage of fake news by reaching out to the largest part of India’s 1.3 billion people at the time of national crisis while themselves at risk,” it goes on to add.

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