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MIB frames new policy for issuing ads in print media

MUMBAI: The Ministry of Information & Broadcasting (MIB) has framed a new print media advertisement policy for the Directorate of Advertising & Visual Publicity (DAVP) with the objective to promote transparency and accountability in issuing advertisements in print media.

The policy focuses on streamlining the release of government advertisements and promoting equity and fairness among various categories of newspapers/periodicals.

The key highlights of the policy are as follows:

Promoting transparency & accountability

For the first time, the policy introduces a new marking system for newspapers to incentivise those that have better professional standing and have their circulation verified by Audit Bureau of Circulation (ABC)/ Registrar of Newspapers for India (RNI). This will also ensure transparency and accountability in the release of advertisements by the DAVP. The marking system is based on six objective criteria with different marks allotted to each criterion.

The criteria include circulation certified by ABC/RNI (25 marks), EPF subscription for employees (20 marks), number of pages (20 marks), subscription to wire services of UNI/PTI/Hindustan Samachar (15 marks), its own printing press (10 marks) and annual subscription payment to PCI (10 marks). Advertisements will be released by the DAVP to newspapers based on these scores.

The policy framework includes circulation verification procedure for empanelment of newspapers/journals with the DAVP. The procedure involves certification by RNI/ABC if circulation exceeds 45,000 copies per publishing day; for circulation up to 45,000 copies per publishing day, certificate from cost/chartered accountant/statutory auditor /ABC is mandated. The RNI circulation certificate will be valid for a period of two years from the date of issue and, in case of ABC, the current certificate will be used for circulation certificate. The policy states that DG DAVP reserves the right to have figures of circulation checked through RNI or its representative.

The policy also stipulates the empanelment procedure for multiple editions of a newspaper. As per the PRB Act whenever copies of one edition of a newspaper are printed from more than one centre and if the content of newspaper is different, they would be treated as different editions.

Each edition of a newspaper is required to have a separate RNI registration number and the RNI will treat each edition as separate entity while verifying the circulation.

However, the policy guidelines mention that, if a newspaper for the sake of convenience is printing its copies of an edition in more than one printing press without adding any additional content, the DAVP may take the circulations of such printing centres into consideration for rating that edition.

For payment and adjustment of bills, DAVP will release payment of advertisement bills in the name of newspaper/company account directly through ECS or NEFT. Moreover, it is mentioned that a newspaper will publish DAVP advertisement only on receipt of the relevant release order by the DAVP. All release orders issued can be accessed electronically at the DAVP website.

Incentivising all categories of newspapers

The policy stipulates that the rate structure for payment against advertisements released by the DAVP will be as per recommendations of the rate structure committee. The policy framework provides a premium for prominent placing of ads in newspapers and journals whose circulation is certified by ABC/RNI.

DAVP would pay a premium of 50% above DAVP rates for colour/black and white for front page, 20% premium for third page, 10% premium for fifth page and 30% premium for back page to only those newspapers whose circulation is certified by the ABC/RNI.

The policy also incentivises big category newspapers that are willing to publish the advertisements of educational institutions at DAVP rates by giving additional business of 50% in volume terms compared to those not willing to accept.

The policy has classified newspapers/journals into three categories, namely small (<25,000 copies per publishing day), medium (25,001–75,000 copies per publishing day) and big (>75,000 copies per publishing day).

Ensuring equity and fairness in release of government ads

In pursuance of the broad social objectives of the government, the new policy has structured the empanelment procedure to ensure fairness among various categories of newspapers/journals. The policy also mentions relaxation in the empanelment procedure to provide special encouragement for regional-language/dialect small and medium newspapers, mass-circulated newspapers (circulation >1 lakh), newspapers from the North Eastern states, Jammu & Kashmir, and Andaman & Nicobar Islands. The policy emphasises that the DAVP will make efforts to release more social messages and related advertisements that are not date-specific to periodicals.

To promote equity-based regional outreach, the policy emphasises that the budget for all-India release of advertisements will be divided among states based on the total circulation of newspapers in each state/language.

The policy mentions that PSUs and autonomous bodies may issue the advertisements directly at DAVP rates to newspapers empanelled with the DAVP. However, they all will have to follow the criterions laid down by the DAVP for release of classified and display advertisements in different categories of newspapers, viz. small, medium and big.

Ensuring quick and timely payment by client ministries to DAVP

The policy directs all DAVP clients to issue letters of authority/cheque/DD/NEFT/RTGS up to 80% of the actual expenditure in the previous year within the first month of the new financial year and clear all the remaining payments before 28 February of the financial year. Alternatively, the client ministries may provide 85% advance payments of the estimated expenditure of the advertisements.

The DAVP is the nodal agency of the government of India for advertising on behalf of various ministries/departments/PSUs/autonomous organisations funded by the government.