COVID-19: NBA demands stimulus for broadcast media

NBA demands stimulus for broadcast media to fight coronavirus impact

NBA president Rajat Sharma said the operating costs of the broadcasters have risen "exponentially" during the COVID-19 lockdown

Representative image (iStock Photo)

Facing the possibility of "almost zero or negligible income" in the coming several months due to COVID-19, the News Broadcasters Association (NBA) on Monday demanded a stimulus package from the government, that includes a 50 per cent hike in official advertisement rates and paying dues of Rs 64.49 crore accumulated over the last ten years.

In a letter to Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar, NBA president Rajat Sharma said the operating costs of the broadcasters have risen "exponentially" during the COVID-19 lockdown due to arrangements being made to ensure social distancing and safety of staff.

Follow live updates on coronavirus

At the same time, he said, advertisements has come under severe pressure during this period with agencies putting pressure to defer the payments. He also expressed concern about the possibility of "almost zero or negligible income" in the coming several months.

Recently, the Indian Newspaper Society (INS) also wrote to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting seeking a fiscal stimulus, saying the revenue has dwindled for the print media because of COVID-19 and subsequent lockdown.

 

"While the news broadcasters are coping with the financial problems of recovery of dues, we are also faced with serious problems of advertising inventory/release orders being cancelled and inventory/bookings being less than 50% for even the top-rated news channels. Poor recovery and lack of future income would mean that the news broadcasters would have to weather the storm for two/three quarters and hope for a partial recovery towards the end of the financial year," Sharma said.

The NBA demanded that the Bureau of Outreach and Communication (BOC) advertisements rates be increased by 50 per cent. It also wanted a substantial increase in budgetary allocations of all central ministries and organisations for dissemination of information relating to COVID-19 through private satellite TV channels for its widest reach to all sections of the society.

Sharma also raised the issue of outstanding dues by the BOC, which the NBA said was around Rs 64.49 crore, including Rs 8.62 crore from the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. This is a "substantial amount, which has remained unpaid over the years. Payment of these outstanding dues of BOC/ DAVP will give some relief to the broadcasters who are under severe financial stress," he said.