In the last three years, the Union Government has spent around Rs 1,700 crore on advertisements in print and electronic media, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting said on Tuesday.
In his written response to a query raised in the Lok Sabha, Minister of Information and Broadcasting Anurag Thakur said the amount committed for advertisements by the government through print and electronic media during the period 2018-19 to 2020-21 is Rs 1,698.98 crore.
“The primary objective of government advertising is to create awareness of government policies and schemes among the intended beneficiaries, including the population living in far-flung and remote areas, through print, electronic and outdoor media,” Thakur said.
The data shared by the ministry showed that the government spent a total of Rs 826.5 crore on advertisements in newspapers. It said Rs 118.59 crore was spent on ads in 6,085 newspapers in 2020-21, Rs 200 crore in 5,365 newspapers in 2019-20 and Rs 507.9 crore was spent on ads in 6,119 newspapers in 2018-19.
According to an article published by Newslaundry, the government ad expenditure began rising in 2004-05 (the “India Shining” campaign perhaps played a part) and continued to gradually increase during Manmohan Singh’s two terms. The biggest spike in ads came in 2013-14 under the UPA II government, just before it unsuccessfully faced its second election. Interestingly, instead of returning to pre-election trends, ads under the Narendra Modi government continued to rise even further, peaking in 2017-18.
According to reports, Govt ad spending has drastically declined during the pandemic period. In a reply to a question in the Rajya Sabha in July 2021, Thakur said that the government on print media advertising spent Rs 429 crore in 2018-19, which got reduced to Rs 295 crore in 2019-20, which further shrunk to Rs 197.49 crore in 2020-21. When it comes to ad spends on electronic and digital media during 2018-19, the government spent Rs 514 crore, which shrunk to Rs 316 crore in 2019-20 and, in 2020-21, it was reduced to Rs 167.98 crore.
Reportedly, the Central government owes more than Rs 147 crore to various print media outlets, and Rs 67 crore to electronic media, as payment for government advertisements.