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Govt ad spend on print falls by 54 % in last 3 years

Total Rs 197.49 cr was spent on print ads in 2020-21 by Centre.

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New Delhi: The government’s expenditure on print advertisements has dropped by almost 54 per cent in the last three years.

According to the latest data presented in the Parliament, the government had spent Rs 429.55 cr in print advertisements in 2018-19, which decreased to Rs 295.05 cr in 2019-20, and further plummeted down to Rs 197.49 cr during the pandemic in 2020-21. The data was shared by the union minister for information and broadcasting Anurag Thakur during the ongoing monsoon session of the Parliament.

The ad-expenditure on electronic and digital media has also also recorded a significant drop over the last three years, said Thakur in a written response to a question raised by BJD MP Sasmit Patra. According to Thakur, the Centre spent Rs 514.29 crore on TV ads in 2018-19. In 2019-20, the allocation for ad expenditure on electronic media platforms was slashed to Rs 316.99 crore, which further came down to Rs 167.98 crore in 2020-21.

All these expenditures refer to expenses incurred by the Bureau of Outreach and Communications (BOC), which acts as an advisory body to the government on its media strategy, and undertakes information, education, and communication (IEC) campaigns of the government through its empanelled media platforms as per the policy guidelines.

The plummeting ad spends by the government come at a time when the print industry is struggling to survive the pandemic’s severe blow. The print media thrives on advertisement expenditure of industries including e-commerce, automobiles, and finance, which were also impacted by the lockdown. Many businesses ended up pulling out advertisements, as part of budget cuts and also due to a drastic fall in the circulation of newspapers and magazines. The prolonged lockdown restrictions forced several publications to limit the number of pages, shut their editions and resort to layoffs.

Last year, the Indian Newspaper Society (INS) had also raised concerns over the rising newsprint and logistics costs and increasing preference for online content. It had also demanded a 50 per cent increase in government advertisement rates and a 200 per cent increase in the Centre’s spend on print media advertising and an immediate settlement of advertisement bills outstanding to both central and state governments.

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