The Press Council has recommended several changes to the new policy for government advertisements in the print media issued by the Directorate of Advertising and Visual Publicity on June 7.
Under the new policy, the directorate, which is the nodal agency for government advertisements, has introduced a marking system for newspapers and will release ads to them based on the marks they obtain out of 100. PCI chairman Justice C K Prasad said that during the five-hour meeting on August 22, each clause of the new policy was discussed at length.
According to the new policy, the newspapers will be marked on six separate categories. The PCI has recommended changes to three of them.
The new policy allots 25 marks to newspapers that are certified by Audit Bureau of Circulation or the Registrar of Newspapers for India. The PCI said newspapers “cannot be forced” to be a member of the audit bureau as it is a private body. It also said newspapers suffer because the Registrar of Newspapers takes a lot of time to issue circulation certificates. It recommended that it should issue the certificates within 90 days from the date of the application.
Under the new policy, newspapers will be given 15 marks for subscribing to one of the three wire services — Press Trust of India, United News of India and Hindustan Samachar, which is known to have RSS links. The PCI has recommended that the list should not be restricted to these three services and should be expanded to include all “news/ photo/ cartographic agencies” accredited by either the Centre or any state government.
According to the new policy, any newspaper that is printed in its own press would get 20 marks. The PCI objected to this, saying that “no incentive should be given for owning printing press”. Medium newspapers, with circulation between 25,000 and 75,000 will not get ads beyond the mandatory ads if they score less than 45 marks.
The council also suggested a change to one of the points for suspension of a newspaper’s empanelment. The new policy states that a newspaper might face suspension if it indulges in anti-national activities or if the PCI finds its practices unethical. It can also face the action if it is convicted by a court of law for similar activities. The PCI recommended a change, so that the policy states that a newspaper can only be suspended if the PCI finds or a court convicts it for unethical practices or anti-national activities.
The directorate’s director general K Ganesan did not respond to calls and a message.