Sonia Gandhi: Reacting to Sonia Gandhi’s suggestion, IBF says stopping of government ads on TV would kill the sector

MUMBAI: A day after Congress president Sonia Gandhi suggested that the government should suspend all the advertising for two years, the Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF), the apex body of broadcasters, has raised serious concerns and said that stopping of government ads on TV will kill the sector.

IBF said in a statement that it is deeply saddened by Sonia Gandhi’s suggestion to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, regarding government and PSU advertising.

“Like other sectors which have been economically impacted by the Covid-19 outbreak, the media and Broadcasting industry cannot claim immunity,” IBF said. “In these testing times, any decision by the Government to curtail budgetary allocation to advertisements carried out by various channels in lieu of government advertising will sound the death knell for the sector and particularly so, for the regional and smaller channels whose overwhelming dependence on Government ads cannot be both overstated and undermined.”

IBF has maintained that with the closure of cinemas, the complete cessation of production of films and television shows, cancellations of live sporting events and scheduled advertisements and delays in payments by advertising agencies and distribution platform operators, the media and entertainment sector is already facing the brunt of the slowdown. In fact, advertisement bookings have nosedived by almost 50% already.

“Under such a scenario, we will resist any such move by the government to undercut revenue for government advertising as many of our member channels will lose substantial revenues and will be compelled to shut down resulting in massive job losses,” IBF said.

The foundation has requested all parties to give a thought for the media sector which is known for its “neutrality and objectivity”.

“A lot of Government ads relate to social messages concerning health, education, etc. TV still remains the primary mode of disseminating these messages to the citizens of India and stopping these ads is not in public interest,” the statement said.

On Tuesday, the News Broadcasters Association (NBA) had also reacted strongly to Gandhi’s letter, maintaining that at a time when media personnel are fearlessly reporting on the Covid-19, a statement like this from the Congress President is highly demoralising.

Gandhi was responding to PM Modi’s outreach to the opposition in the continuing fight against coronavirus. She had put forth five suggestions to the government to save money, including suspension of Central Vista beautification project, putting on hold foreign visits by the president, vice president and ministers as well as chief ministers of states and bureaucrats, and slashing the government’s expenditure budget, other than salaries, pensions and central sector schemes, by 30%.

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