If media is essential service govt should support, not just exempt from lockdown

News Karnataka

If media is essential service govt should support, not just exempt from lockdown

If media is essential service govt should support, not just exempt from lockdown

Team NK   ¦    Mar 25, 2020 02:42:01 PM (IST)

If media is essential service govt should support, not just exempt from lockdown-1In these difficult times involving a battle with the Covid-19 Virus, the Union Government has realized one important truth - that the print and electronic media, including social media (despite its recognized ills), is an important battalion of the government in the dissemination of authentic information to the public - that it is an essential and vital public service. Consequently, it has directed vide order dated March 23 2020, and reiterated post lockdown announcement by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on March 24, that the print and electronic media, including social media, should be supported in the discharge of their duties.

How? The order from the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting dated March 23 states as follows:

In order to ensure continuity of these services, it is requested that State / Union Territory Administrations facilitate the operational convenience of the above-mentioned services. It is accordingly requested that the following mạy kindly be kept in view in case any restrictions are being contemplated to be imposed for containment of COVID-19:-

(a) All operators of such facilities/intermediaries in the chain be permitted to remain operational;
(b) Facilitating smooth supply and distribution chain as may be required;
(c) The facilities should be permitted to be manned by the staff of the service providers;
(d) The movement of the accredited staff of services providers be permitted;
(e) The movement of vehicles carrying media persons, DSNGS and others
including provisioning of fuel, where-ever required may kindly be facilitated; and
(f) Availability of uninterrupted electric supply and other logistics as requested by such facilities be provided

The full order of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting is appended below for perusal. It is common knowledge that the print and electronic media in the country is financed by advertisements from businesses and the government, where eligible and possible, and subscriptions.

With the economy taking a U-turn in its approach after demonetization and the implementation of GST, business spends on advertising have become more need-based rather than branding based, and this has affected the incomes of almost all private players in the media industry, barring perhaps the big electronic media players, who derive their TRPs more from debates of doubtful informational value rather than the dissemination of authentic information as desired by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.

The advent of the Covid-19 Virus has probably hammered the last nail in the media's coffin for the present - and it is surviving the present, that most private players, especially the smaller ones in the Industry are concerned with. Yet, they have soldiered on - disseminating authentic information, rather than sensationalism, which has been left to social media, quietly fulfilling the purpose for which they exist or were set up by their promoters without any support (other than licensing, for which licensing fees too have been paid) from the Government.

The smaller players in this market are drastically hit - rents, maintenance, and salaries have to be paid to sustain the information flow. Yes, the Government has exempted the media from being locked down, but they are already under virtual lockdown, with incomes drying up as businesses shut down, or fail because of a lack of a vibrant consumer base. What then is the use of the facility being provided? If movement is permitted, travel and fuel costs have to be paid for, if electricity is provided, it has to be paid for; there is no exemption from GST on advertising or even soft loans to tide over the crisis that the industry is facing.

It may be noted in this context that, all other exempted facilities are self income generating - pharma, groceries, fuel, private hospitals, or paid for from public funds - the Government agencies, hospitals, police etc. The government must note that if the electronic and print media, especially the smaller players, are discharging an essential public service, then they must be supported monetarily from public funds, rather than through just lock down exemptions. It's time for the Government to step up and step in.

Indeed, feeling the pinch, the National Broadcasting Federation has urged the Center to waive the fees for news channels on the DD Free Dish platform for March and April in view of the coronavirus outbreak. The lockdown measures have severely impacted cash flows due to lower collection of payments since clients have scaled down their business operations, the NBF said. "At the same time, the operating costs on connectivity and communications have tremendously increased due to the lockdowns while ensuring the safety of employees," the NBF said. To overcome the financial impact, the NBF requested the government to relax and offer tax concessions including lowering GST rates and filing dates, postponing the deadline for TDS payments, for at least a minimum period of three months, until June 30.

The Government Oder for perusal


"Electronic and Print Media
Government of India
Ministry of Information and Broadcasting
(BP&L Section)
Shastri Bhawan, New Delhi-110011
Dated, the 23 March 2020

To
The Chief Secretaries of
all States/ Union Territories
Subject: Ensure operational continuity of Print and Electronic Media in view of
threat of COVID-19 outbreak – regarding

Sir/Madam,
As you are aware, the Government of India and the State / UT Governments are taking necessary steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19. At this juncture, robust and essential information dissemination networks viz. TV Channels, News Agencies, Teleport Operators, Digital Satellite News Gathering (DSNG), Direct to Home (DTH) and Highend-in-the Sky (HITS), Multi System Operators (MSOS), Cable Operators, Frequency Modulation (FM) Radio and Community Radio Stations (CRSS) are of utmost importance to ensure timely and authentic information dissemination. The proper functioning of these networks is required not only to create awareness among people and to give important messages but also to keep the nation updated on the latest status. False and fake news needs to be avoided and good practices need to be promoted and these networks play a pivotal role in ensuring the same and these networks play a pivotal role in ensuring the same.

1. At this critical juncture, ensuring uninterrupted operation of information networks as above and their outreach is of vital importance. The critical infrastructure, in this case, would include:-

(a) Printing Presses and distribution infrastructure of Newspapers and Magazines;
(b)All TV Channels and supporting services like Teleports and DSNGS;
(c) DTH/HITS operations connected equipment /facilities, etc. including maintenance;
(d) FM/CRS Networks;
(e) Networks of MSOS and Cable Operators; and
(f) News Agencies.

2. In order to ensure continuity of these services, it is requested that State Territory Administrations facilitate the operational convenience of the above-mentioned services. It is accordingly requested that the following mạy kindly be kept in view in case any restrictions are being contemplated to be imposed for containment of COVID-19:-

(a) All operators of such facilities/intermediaries in the chain be permitted to remain operational;
(b) Facilitating smooth supply and distribution chain as may be required;
(c) The facilities should be permitted to be manned by the staff of the service providers;
(d) The movement of the accredited staff of services providers be permitted;
(e) The movement of vehicles carrying media persons, DSNGS and others including provisioning of fuel, where-ever required may kindly be facilitated; and
(f) Availability of uninterrupted electric supply and other logistics as requested by such facilities be provided;

3. The concerned service providers are being advised to coordinate with the local authorities in case any problem is faced by them in providing uninterrupted services.

Yours faithfully,
(Gopal Sadhwari)
Director
Tele.23385016
Email: sadhwani.gopal@nic.in"

More Images
If media is essential service govt should support, not just exempt from lockdown
If media is essential service govt should support, not just exempt from lockdown
If media is essential service govt should support, not just exempt from lockdown
If media is essential service govt should support, not just exempt from lockdown
If media is essential service govt should support, not just exempt from lockdown
If media is essential service govt should support, not just exempt from lockdown