Rajat Sharma, President, News Broadcasters Association (NBA), addressed a letter dated 27.4.2020 to Shri Prakash Javadekar, Hon’ble Minister for Information and Broadcasting, regarding stimulus package for the news broadcasters relating to Bureau of Outreach & Communication (BOC)/DAVP advertisements and outstanding dues of the member news broadcasters of NBA.
The news broadcasters to ensure social distancing from spread of the virus and for ensuring the safety of the editorial personnel/staff has had to take various steps/make alternate arrangements within and outside the premises for news gathering/ reporting/office purposes. This has resulted in the operating costs of news broadcasters during the current pandemic/lockdown having gone up exponentially.
Advertisements that are an integral and essential part of the business and the main source of revenue for the news broadcasters have come under severe pressure during this pandemic/lockdown. Advertising agencies are putting huge pressure to defer the payments to broadcasters and to allow more time over and above the 60 days credit period; the recovery of bills is going to be hugely challenging while facing an even bigger task of almost zero or negligible income in the coming several months.
While the news broadcasters are coping with the financial problems of recovery of dues, they are also faced with serious problems of advertising inventory/ release orders being cancelled and inventory/ bookings being less than 50 per cent for even the top-rated news channels. Poor recovery and lack of future income would mean that the news broadcasters would have to weather the storm for two/three quarters and hope for a partial recovery towards the end of the financial year.
To overcome the financial crisis, NBA has suggested that the MOI&B announce a stimulus package for the broadcast media by (1) increase the rates of BOC/DAVP advertisements by 50% and (2) substantial increase in budgetary allocations of all Ministries/ Departments and organizations of the Govt. of India for the dissemination of information/communication relating to COVID 19 pandemic by BOAC/DAVP through private satellite TV channels for its widest reach to all sections of the society.
Further, NBA has been representing the MoI&B for several years, the issue of outstanding dues of BOC/DAVP of our member broadcasters, which is pending since 2010, and there has been no resolution to date.
NBA has collated the current outstanding dues reported by our member broadcasters with regard to various Ministries/Departments released by BOC/ DAVP up to 31.3.2020. The total outstanding dues reported by members of the NBA is approximately Rs.64,49,87,733/-, a substantial amount, which has remained unpaid over the years.
Against the said outstanding, it may kindly be noted that that the outstanding dues of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MoI&B) reported by the members is approximately Rs.8,62,25,333/-.
NBA attached three statements. Annexure 1, which gives the breakup of outstanding Ministry-wise, Annexure 2 which gives the breakup of the outstanding dues member-wise. Annexure 3 gives the individual member details of the said outstanding.
NBA requested I&B Ministry to kindly instruct the BOC/ DAVP to clear all the outstanding dues of various ministries and in particular the dues of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MoI&B)of approximately Rs.8,62,25,333/-.
Payment of these outstanding dues of BOC/ DAVP will give some relief to the broadcasters who are under severe financial stress. If the payments have not been made to the broadcasters due to non-receipt of payment we request the MoI&B, to kindly take up the matter with the concerned client Ministries /Departments and organizations of the Govt. of India, to release the long-overdue payment expeditiously to BOC/ DAVP.