Chennai: The DMK urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to waive customs duty on newsprint, take steps to pay government’s advertising dues to newspapers and hike advertisement rates by 100 per cent. The DMK said that the media industry has taken a severe hit owing to the COVID-19 induced lockdown.
Citing his interaction with a group of newspaper publishers here this week, DMK president MK Stalin said the impact of the economic activities coming to a grinding halt in the last two months has put a question mark on very survival of the industry.
“The loss of advertising revenue and barriers to circulation on account of the COVID-19 pandemic pose a dire threat to the media industry as they are unable to meet costs,” Stalin, who is also the Leader of Opposition in the Tamil Nadu Assembly, said in a letter to Modi.
Based on his interactions with industry representatives, Stalin sought several measures for services to continue without disruption by easing the fiscal burden on the newspaper industry.
“The customs duty on newsprint and other raw materials that are imported need to be waived for the rest of the year,” Stalin said.
The Central government’s Bureau of Outreach and Communication (BOC) has a sizeable amount of outstanding dues to newspapers over the years and if cleared urgently, it can help mitigate the increase in operating costs due to adherence of social distancing protocols, Stalin pointed out.
“To offset the loss in advertisement revenue from private players, advertisement rates offered by BOC for publishing essential information should be increased by 100 per cent. Simultaneously, the government’s use of print media for announcements and notices should also be increased to support our newspaper industry,” added the DMK chief. He also urged the Prime Minister to take steps and provide timely relief to the newspaper industry.
Publishers of five major English and Tamil newspapers have visited Chief Minister K Palaniswami, Stalin and other leaders this week here. They have sought support to the newspaper industry, which is facing heavy losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Indian Newspaper Society (INS) has already urged the Centre to scrap the customs duty on newsprint, clear outstanding advertisement bills and increase advertisement rates by 100 per cent.