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Consider Covid-19 related ad spends on news TV as CSR activity, demands NBF

The news broadcasters body asks PM Modi to reject Sonia Gandhi’s suggestion for a “complete ban on advertisements by the government and Public Sectors Undertakings (PSUs) for a period of two years”

News Broadcasters Federation has asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to reject the suggestion by Sonia Gandhi, Chairperson, Congress Parliamentary Party, who called for a “complete ban on media advertisements- television, print and online- by the government and Public Sectors Undertakings (PSUs) for a period of two years”. NBF also requested Gandhi to withdraw her suggestions in this regard.

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“At a time when other industries and sector are scaling down resources and expenses, we, the news broadcasters of India are facing increased costs as we provide emergency and essential service at the time of national crisis,” a statement from NBF said. “We request the government to support the news broadcasters through all means to ensure their survival.”

The news broadcasters serve as an influential, public awareness and emergency communications system to get information on the doorsteps of the common citizens across the length and breadth of the country, especially in current times of national lockdown due to the world health emergency of COVID-19. Due to this, news television viewership has increased exponentially by 298%, according to BARC.

The advertising revenue contribution by government and PSUs is minuscule in comparison to the overall advertising market which is pegged at less than 0.5% to India’s GDP. But in contrast, the advertising sector acts as a key catalyst to create mass and expeditious awareness among  citizens, creating demand among consumers and leading to higher spending which creates employment to millions, directly and indirectly, and ultimately benefitting the exchequer in terms of tax revenue.

Advertising revenue forms the backbone for the sustenance of FTA news broadcasters, especially at such crucial time when the operational cost has increased by more than 20%, as news channels are scaling up their effort, by putting hundreds of experts, doctors, public health experts, civil and police personnel, and government officials on air in a massive effort to disseminate the right information and counter the barrage of fake news by reaching out to the largest part of India’s 1.3 billion people at the time of national crisis while themselves at risk.

In addition, NBF also demanded that the advertising spends by private and public sector companies to news broadcasters disseminating public awareness campaigns/ information/ publicity during the current period to prevent the spread of Covid-19 should be considered as CSR activity.

NBF counts Dighvijay, DY365 News, First India Rajasthan, Gulistan News, IBC24,  India News, JK 24X7, Living India News, News Live, News Nation, NewsX, North East Live, Odisha TV, Prag News, Puthiya Thalaimurai TV, Republic Bharat, Republic TV, S Newz, TV5, and Twenty Four News among its founding members.

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