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Congress President Sonia Gandhi.  (PTI)
Congress President Sonia Gandhi. (PTI)

TV bodies deplore Sonia Gandhi’s call to ban government advertising

  • News Broadcasters Association has called the suggestion for ban not only ill-timed, but highly arbitrary
  • The media and entertainment sector is already facing the brunt of the slowdown. Advertisement bookings have shrunk by 50%

NEW DELHI: The Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF) and News Broadcasters Association (NBA) have spoken up against Congress President Sonia Gandhi’s call to ban all advertising by state governments and public-sector undertakings for a period of two years, requesting her to withdraw the suggestion.

“On one hand, there has been a slump in advertisement revenues of electronic media due to recession, on the other, it is suffering from financial blows due to the nationwide lockdown of all industries and businesses. Moreover, news channels are spending heavily on providing safety to their reporters and production staff," NBA said in a statement, calling the proposal for ban not only ill-timed, but highly arbitrary.

The IBF said, in these testing times, any decision to curtail budgetary allocation to advertisements carried out by various channels in lieu of the government advertising will sound the death knell for the sector. It will deal a blow for regional and smaller channels whose overwhelming dependence on government ads cannot be both overstated and undermined.

With closure of cinemas, complete cessation of production of films and television shows, cancellations of live sporting events and scheduled advertisements and delays in payments by advertising agencies and distribution platform operators, the media and entertainment sector is already facing the brunt of the slowdown. Advertisement bookings have shrunk by 50%.

“Under such a scenario, we will resist any such move by the Centre to undercut revenue for government advertising as many of our member channels will lose substantial revenues and will be compelled to shut down resulting in massive job losses," the IBF said, adding that lot of government ads relate to social messages concerning health, education, etc. TV still remains the primary mode of disseminating these messages to the citizens of India and stopping these ads is not in public interest.

The IBF is a not-for profit industry association representing television broadcasters, while the NBA is a group for news broadcasters.

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