New Delhi: The members of All India Small News Papers Association (AISNA) protested in front of the office of Directorate of Advertising and Visual Publicity (DAVP), CGO Complex, here on Tuesday. Shouting slogans and carrying banners, they demanded the government roll back the ‘marking’ system for newspapers under its new Print Media Advertisement Policy which was launched on June 10 this year.
According to the government this policy aims to promote transparency and accountability in the release of its ads, but AISNA claims that this step will ‘stifle’ small and medium newspapers as it limits the granting of advertisements to circulation alone by introduction of a ‘six-point marking criteria.’
Marking System- The marking system is based on six objective criteria with different marks each of them.
- Circulation certified by ABC/ANI- 25 marks
- EPF system for employees – 20 marks
- Number of pages- 20 marks
- Subscription to wire services of PTI/UNI/Hindustan Samachar- 15 marks
- Own printing press- 10 marks
- Annual Subscription payment to PCI- 10 marks
Advertisements shall be released by DAVP on the basis of the marks it obtains based on this criteria and it is this ‘marking’ scheme that is attracting the wrath of AISNA and all other small publishing houses. The policy has classified Newspaper and Journals into three categories – Small (less than 25,000 copies per publishing day), Medium (25,001-75,000 copies) and Big (over 75,000 copies per publishing day).
Editor of ‘Siyasi Taqdir’ an Urdu daily while speaking to Newsd said, “This is a clear attempt to stifle our existence and promote big brands and newspapers, tell us why the ceiling of 45,000 has been applied on us for an RNI registration? Also, they have a requirement of at least 20 staff for ‘marking’ us, many small newspapers and periodicals have just 8 members, what about them? Also, the owing of printing press is another issue, they want each unit to have their own printing press. A newspaper is newspaper, small or large, it still is the voice of people.”
Earlier too the AISNA had staged a protest at Jantar Mantar on June 28, calling people from around the country to demand a recall of the policy.
As per the new ruling, circulation by RNI or ABC will be given if circulation exceeds 45,000 copies per publishing day and for circulation up to 45,000 copies per publishing day certificate from Cost or Chartered Accountant, Statutory Auditor Certificate or ABC is mandated. Further, the policy states that RNI circulation certificate shall be valid for a period of two years from the date of issue and in case of ABC, the current certificate shall be used for circulation certificate.
According to the government, the “marking system” has been put in place to incentivise newspapers which have better professional standing and get their certification verified “For the first time the policy introduces a New Marking System for newspapers to incentivise Newspapers who have better professional standing and get their circulation verified by Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) or Registrar of Newspapers for India (RNI),” said the official statement by DAVP.
The policy states that RNI circulation certificate shall be valid for a period of two years from the date of issue and in case of ABC, the current certificate shall be used for circulation certificate. Director General of DAVP reserves the right to have figures of circulation checked through RNI or its representative.