A deepening economic crisis owing to the coronavirus lockdown is eating into advertising revenues, the Indian Newspaper Society has written to the Union government seeking urgent interventions and assistance to keep the newspaper industry afloat.
INS has repeated its demand for a two-year tax holiday and removal of all import duty on newsprint by asserting that the print industry has been hit by a “triple whammy of coronavirus, plummeting advertising and customs duty on newsprint”, which has led to a “hitherto unimaginable situation” where the domestic newspaper industry stands on the brink of collapse in a very short period of time.
Following up on the many missives INS has sent to the government, the latest dispatch to information and broadcasting secretary Ravi Mittal says the newspaper industry is facing an “unprecedented crisis”, exacerbated by no advertising revenue amidst the Covid-19 lockdown and compounded with heavy input costs and import duty on newsprint. “Newspapers have cut down their pages to unprecedented levels with many merging weekend supplements into main edition. Despite these measures, newspapers are losing money every single day,” the INS letter to the I&B ministry said.
In the case of other essential goods like food, milk, and groceries where consumers pay in full and cover costs, INS said newspapers cover only a fraction of their cost through subscriptions and the gap is normally made up through advertisements, which have dipped drastically. “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,” the letter said