It’s only a little over a month is left for I&B Minister Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi’s much-touted announcement on separate DAVP (Directorate of Audio Visual Publicity) rates for newspapers and magazines to come into effect. To the consternation of the INS, the Minister had told the Indian Magazine Congress held in the Capital last year that after March 31, 2007, the DAVP pricing mechanism for newspapers and magazines would be made separate.
Strongly reacting to the move, INS President Hormusji N. Cama, who was in the Capital recently, said, “My view is that there should not be any DAVP rates. Where is the question of there being a separate DAVP rate? There should not be a separate DAVP rate. What right does the government have to decide on a rate for a newspaper?”
The Indian Newspaper Society has been discussing the issue with the government since then, but without much success. When queried on the outcome, Cama said, “The government stand is that they are not forcing any one of us to accept the DAVP rate, they are making an offer, it is for each publication to accept or reject it. However, our stand is that while large papers may have the strength to say that we won’t publish your ads, smaller publications are dependent on government ads. They are forced to succumb to such blackmailing tactics by the government. The government knows that it is in a position to keep smaller publications floating by giving them advertisements, so they are bullying them. Smaller publications have no options but to accept it.”
The INS was formed as a body of large newspapers, but with an objective of protecting the interests of the small and medium newspapers as well. In a situation where small and medium newspapers are left with no options but to be dependent on government ads, INS as an industry body has decided to take the judicial route if the government fails to discuss the issue with them.
“We are in dialogue with the government and if the government does not accept our contention or does not sit for a debate then we may look at other forum like the judiciary. We will move court,” Cama said. Saying that he failed to understand the reason for implementing DAVP rates just for the print media and not to any other medium, he asked, “why the government wants to harass only the print media.”
Admitting that the INS has not been effectively raising
these issues seriously enough, he said, “I don’t think they have been raised forcibly enough. It has to be raised, it has to be argued, it has to be taken to a logical conclusion and that is what the judiciary is ultimately meant for. We have a strong judiciary and we should use that. That is one direction which we will be taking where the DAVP rates are concerned.”
On the continuing dichotomy in the NRS and IRS surveys, Cama said, “We need an accurate survey--whether from one, two or three agencies; if they are accurate and parameters are more or less same, then results will not be diametrically different as they are today.” He also opined that there should not be a separate survey for magazines, though the parameters for them should be different from that of newspapers.
Outlining the vision for INS, Cama said, “My primary wish is to bring back recognition to INS. In the eyes of the public, we’ve been reduced to a bill-collecting agency. I want to change that mindset. There was a time when INS could influence policy; I want to bring INS back to that standard. I will be very happy if I fulfil it.”