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I&B ministry 'immediately' directs PIB to verify circulation of newspapers

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 I&B ministry 'immediately' directs PIB to verify circulation of newspapers

On August 30, a directive by the Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (I&B) entrusted the Press Information Bureau (PIB) with the task of verifying the circulation of newspapers for which its regional and branch offices will be also given an additional Rs 50 lakh and Rs 70 lakh, state media reports. 


The ministry order further mentions the names of the designated officers alongside the publications whose circulation they will have to check. Along with regional newspapers named in the order, there is also mention of national players such as The Indian Express and DNA. For The Indian Express, designated PIB officers have been asked to verify circulations in cities such as New Delhi, Pune, Mumbai and Chandigarh, while for DNA, the Ahmedabad and Jaipur editions would be verified, state reports.


This is the first time that PIB has been tasked with verifying circulation of newspapers. Before this, the task was undertaken by the Registrar of Newspapers of India (RNI).


According to a report in Newslaundry a well-placed source within the I&B ministry said that the task was handed out to PIB keeping in mind the 2019 General Elections so that the Directorate of Advertising and Visual Publicity (DAVP) --  a body that decides allocation of government advertisements to newspapers -- knows which newspapers to give ads to based on their real circulation numbers.


The report further states that the shift of responsibility to PIB could be attributed to the lack of manpower at RNI to conduct the verification. The same report even goes on to state that according to a source, RNI used to get the verification done through District Magistrates (DMs) or Chartered Accountant (CA) firms, however, there have been instances where newspapers managed to bribe the DMs and CA firms to show inflated figures of circulation in order to obtain government ads from the DAVP and that this could be one reason the PIB was asked to conduct the verification.


Also up for verification will be Dainik Bhaskar’s Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Muzaffarpur editions and regional papers including Niyomiya Barta from Assam, Andhra Prabha in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, Deepika and Janmabhumi from Kerala to name a few.


The RNI will continue to issue title verification and registration certificate. It will also help PIB conduct training sessions for PIB officers to hand-hold them through the verification numbers.

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