The demonetisation exercise “worsened” the financial position of newspapers due to fall in advertisements, the Indian Newspaper Society (INS) said today, urging the government to “support and strengthen” the industry. It also condemned incidents of violence and attack on media offices and journalists, describing them as “undisputedly serious threats to the freedom of press”. The society also appealed to the government to desist from constituting any more wage boards for journalists and non-journalists as no other industry has such a practice.
“The Indian newspaper business is heavily dependent on advertising revenue and demonetisation has worsened the situation by squeezing spends across almost all categories of advertisers,” INS’ outgoing president Somesh Sharma said at the 78th Annual General Meeting here. Noting that media in general and newspapers in particular are at an “inflection point”, he said, “This is an apt time to support and strengthen the newspaper industry instead of subjecting it to taxation squeezes and attacks on revenue streams”.
He said the INS was vigorously pursuing with the government “reasonable” fiscal and labour policies. Condemning attacks on media people by anti-social elements, he appealed to state governments and local law and order enforcing authorities to deal with such incidents “firmly with an iron hand” to ensure safety and protection of the press.
Speaking about the wage boards, he said in the liberalised economic environment in India, there is no reason for continuing with the statutory wage fixation for newspaper employees. “Since no other industry has wage boards, there is no rationale for persisting with such boards for the print media alone. “I strongly appeal to government to desist from constituting any more wage boards for both journalist and non-journalist employees in newspaper sstablishments,” he added.