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  • Department building transparent mechanism through systemic interventions: Dir Information 

JAMMU: Seeking support of the Editors’ bodies in further streamlining the advertisement distribution, the Department of Information & Public Relations today made it clear that the purpose of issuing government advertisements to the newspapers is to disseminate, information about recruitments, programmes, policies and initiatives of the Government, and it is not a means of financial support for these publications.

Reacting to a statement issued by the Jammu and Kashmir Press Association (JKPA) regarding distribution of government advertisements, Director Information, Muneer-ul-Islam said that advertisement distribution is done by the Department in a judicious and transparent manner in light of the guidelines laid down in the Advertisement Policy-2016 approved vide State Administrative Council Decision No: 11/3/2016 dated: 03.03.2016.

Quoting from the Advertisement Policy-2016, the Director Information said that it has been made clear in the Proviso 1.3 of the said Policy that "the Government advertisements are not intended to provide financial support to any media but to help its growth and development and in expanding its operation in a healthy, professional and competitive environment."

He said in tune with its objective of ensuring utmost transparency in the distribution of government advertisements, for the first time in the history of the Information Department three significant measures have been introduced in the recent past. "These include commencing online distribution of advertisements to avoid any human intervention, uploading payment details of each newspaper on the official website of DIPR and categorization of approved newspapers to ensure distribution of advertisements on the merits of each publication," he said and added that given these pioneering measures if some newspapers have started upgrading their quality and content, it is a healthy sign towards promoting competitive professionalism in the field of journalism in the State.

The Director Information said to provide adequate advertisement support to the newspapers, the Government has increased the advertisement budget significantly from around Rs 22 crore in 2013-14 to Rs 35 crore for 2018-19. He said it is also for the first time that the Government has announced more than 100% hike in the advertisement rates of the newspapers in one go. “Otherwise there used to be just 10 to 20% increase in advertisement rates after every 3 years,” he said.

Regarding the misplaced contention of JKPA that the conditions enumerated in the J&K Advertisement Policy-2016 are not applicable in DAVP, the Director Information said that as per the Sub-Clause (IV) of Clause (18) of the Print Media Advertisement Policy of the Government of India, notified on 07/06/2016, marking system has been introduced for classification of DAVP approved newspapers for distribution of government advertisements. He said the parameters enumerated by DAVP for categorization of publications include, circulation certified by ABC/ RNI, subscription to wire services of UNI/PTI or Hindustan Samachar, number of salaried employees, subscription to EPF of employees, payment of annual subscription to Press Council of India (PCI), printing in own press, number of pages of a publication and its professional standing. "On the basis of these parameters, the DAVP has even put a ceiling for release of advertisements to each category of newspapers including 15% for small, 35% for medium and 50% for big publications," he said.

The Director Information said that in fact, President JKPA,Mr Ghulam Hassan Kaloowas invited and hosted by the Department of Information in Jammu earlier this week to have threadbare discussions on the parameters worked out by the Committee constituted by the government for categorization of the newspapers. “It is a transparent and systematic process, which not only takes care of the newspaper owners of all categories but is also newspaper employee-friendly,” he said and added that instead of appreciating the DIPR for bringing in transparency in the advertisement distribution, JKPA seems to be advocating continuation of the decrepit, discretionary and shady system of advertisement distribution by the Department which was in vogue till some years back. 

Regarding the compensation for damages suffered by the newspaper offices in 2014 floods, the Director Information said that the Department of Information has nothing to do with it as the assessment and payment of compensation is the mandate of the Revenue authorities and not DIPR.“The JKPA should approach the Revenue Department to seek compensation for flood damages,” he said.

Regarding allotment of accommodation to newspapers by the Estates Department, the Director Information said a committee headed by Administrative Secretary, Home Department has already been constituted by the Government in this regard and the allotment of government accommodation to the journalists is within the purview of the said committee, as per the set norms, and not under the purview of DIPR. He said 120 journalists including Editors are already in possession of the government accommodation at Jammu and Srinagar.