Sonia Gandhi’s suggestion to ban advertisements to media for two years to save money to fight Corona virus has evoked hostile reaction from journalists. PM Narendra Modi wanted suggestions from leaders of political parties to fight Corona virus. Sonia Gandhi had made five suggestions. They were:
1) Proportionate reduction in the expenditure budget of the government of India.
2) Hold on foreign visits of President, Prime Minister, Union Ministers, Chief Ministers, state ministers and bureaucrats.
3) Transfer of all money from PM Cares Fund to Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund to ensure efficiency, transparency and accountability.
4) Complete ban on media advertisements – print, electronic and online – by the Government and Public Sector Undertakings for a period of two years.
5) Suspension of 20,000 crore rupees Central Vista beautification and construction project.
News Broadcasters Association issued the following statement:
“News Broadcasters Association (NBA) strongly deplores the suggestion by Congress President Smt. Sonia Gandhi to “impose a complete ban on media advertisements – television, print and online – by the Government and Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) for a period of two years.”
At a time when media personnel, without fearing for their lives, are doing their national duty, by disseminating news on the pandemic, a statement like this from the Congress President is highly demoralizing.
On one hand there has been a slump in advertisement revenues of electronic media due to recession, on the other hand it is suffering from financial blows due to nationwide lockdown of all industries and businesses. Moreover, news channels are spending heavily on providing safety to their reporters and production staff. To suggest a “complete ban” on government and PSU advertisements is not only ill timed, but highly arbitrary.
NBA calls upon Congress President Smt. Sonia Gandhi to withdraw her suggestion made to the prime minister about “complete ban” on media advertisements for two years in the interest of a healthy and free media.”
It was signed by Rajat Sharma, President, News Broadcasters Association.
NBA is concerned about loss of revenue. News TV channels have lost revenue from private sector and are now dependent on Government and public sector. News is business. Lockdown has resulted in loss of business and income for many. Many people die due to malaria, chikungunya, dengue, TB, pneumonia and other diseases every year. Media created hysteria about Corona. Journalists did not oppose lockdown. Now if they suffer loss it is their problem. Public money should not go to save private media.
I came across one anecdote on SophieCo, RT. A pilgrim and Plague met on the way. Plague asked the pilgrim “Where are you going?” “Mecca” he replied asked the Plague “Where are you going?” “Baghdad.” “How many will you kill?” “Five thousand.” A year later they met again. The pilgrim said “You lied. You said you will kill five thousand. You killed fifty-five thousand.” Plague replied “I told the truth. I killed give thousand. The rest died out of fear.”
NBA calling upon Sonia Gandhi to withdraw her suggestion “complete ban” on media advertisements for two years is height of arrogance and against free speech. Sonia Gandhi does not have the power to decide. It is in the interest of a healthy and free media not to depend on government ads. It is struggle for existence and survival of the fittest. TV journalists lecture others about staying at home and they move about freely. Many businesses are shut down. No problem if news TV channels are shut down. Let journalists sit at home and taste their own bitter medicine.
Sonia Gandhi’s suggestion about PM Cares Fund implies she thinks it lacks efficiency, transparency and accountability. Anyway government is not short of money. It can have as much money it wants by printing notes.
Yesterday, 7/4/2020, NBA wanted Sonia Gandhi to withdraw her suggestion of media ad ban. Today, 8/4/2020, Association of Radio Operators of India (AROI) and Indian Newspaper Society (INS) want the same.
AROI statement said “The last year has been a very difficult one for Radio, especially for radio stations in small towns due to a huge gap in Government advertising…
We also request Mrs. Sonia Gandhi to please review and withdraw her suggestion and thereby demonstrate her support for one of the crucial pillars of democracy – Media.”
This letter is polite. Anuradha Prasad is President of AROI, Uday Chawla is Secretary General.
INS issued a press release signed by Mary Paul, Secretary General. It states:
“The President of the Indian Newspaper Society (INS) Mr. Shailesh Gupta, on behalf of the entire community of INS Members, expressed disbelief and condemned the Chairperson of the Congress Parliamentary Party – Mrs. Sonia Gandhi’s suggestion to the Prime Minister for a two year ban on media advertisements by the Government and PSUs. Such a proposal tantamounts to financial censorship…
The INS appeals to the Chairperson of the Congress Parliamentary Party to reconsider and withdraw the suggestion made to the Prime Minister about the “Complete ban” on media advertisements for two years in the interest of a “vibrant and free Press”.”
This letter is obnoxious. INS has the gall to condemn Sonia Gandhi.
Media is not a pillar of democracy. There is paid news. Media dependent on government ads is neither free nor vibrant. The statements expose many leeches and parasites thriving on public money. If many newspapers and radio stations go down so be it. All India Radio and Doordarshan are enough.