New Delhi: With the coronavirus pandemic, The Indian Newspaper Society (INS) has proposed to the government to urgently grant a two-year tax holiday for the print media industry, as it is facing a severe crisis due to crashing advertising revenues and additional cost in the form of 5% import duty on newsprint that is adding up to their mounting losses.
According to media reports, INS President Shailesh Gupta promoter of the Hindi daily Dainik Jagran wrote a letter to union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman and has urged to remove the remaining 5% import duty on newsprint so that the duty regime goes back to the duty-free situation prior to the 10% imposition last year.
Gupta highlighted that the Indian print media industry is facing a terrible scenario of advertising collapsing and circulation due to coronavirus pandemic which has already created a difficult phase, with publishers in mutual deciding not to shut down a few loss-making editions of some of the newspapers in the national interest.
“These measures are, in our humble view, absolutely necessary to support the Domestic Print media, which has played such an inspiring role in our Independence struggle and has stood strong in every national emergency including the current one. Moreover. they would go a long way in saving fobs of millions of Indians – and stave off sickness in the Newspaper industry which is perhaps the most important tool to project the soft power of our great Nation across the globe.”
“The Domestic Indian Newspaper industry – which gives direct and indirect employment to many crores of people across India is now in very real danger of turning sick due to the very significant fall in advertising and circulation. The already full-blown crisis in the Print Media has now been deepened by the coronavirus pandemic,” the letter reads.
Gupta noted that some newspapers like Afternoon Despatch and Courier has shut down completely and do not even have their digital existence. He further added that this also the case with other small and medium Newspapers in Hindi and regional languages all around the country.
“The Newspapers that remain today are already under severe financial pressure and unsustainable due to falling advertising and rising costs coupled with an unprecedented digital onslaught from foreign technological giant, thus, have been forced to shut down editions in many cities and towns and reduce the number of pages in the editions that do survive – as well as obviously putting expansion plans on hold.” Said Gupta on highlighting the massive impact of tech and social media platforms on the newspaper industry.
Gupta concluded with the need to have a level playing field between foreign digital giants and domestic Indian Newspapers. “For example, just one single foreign and significantly Chinese-owned digital news aggregator operating in India without any controls whatsoever has nearly ten times the number of Indian subscribers as compared to the combined readership of all English Newspapers”