NBA requests Javadekar: Instruct BOC/DAVP to release INR 8.62 Cr dues

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The News Broadcasters Association (NBA) has requested Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Prakash Javadekar, requesting him to instruct the Bureau of Outreach & Communication (BOC)/ DAVP to clear all the outstanding dues of various ministries and in particular the dues of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MoI&B) owed to the NBA, of approximately Rs.8,62,25,333/-.

In addition, the NBA has suggested that to help it overcome the financial crisis, the MOI&B announce a stimulus package for the broadcast media by increasing the rates of BOC/DAVP advertisements by 50%,  and announce substantial increase in budgetary allocations of  all  Ministries/ Departments and organizations of the Govt. of India for dissemination of information/communication relating to COVIND 19 pandemic by BOAC/DAVP through private satellite TV channels for its widest reach to all sections of the society.

These constitute a large part of a stimulus package the NBA has sought for news broadcasting channels which, it said in a letter signed by its President Rajat Sharma, are under severe financial stress.

The letter from NBA to Minister Javdekar reads: “The news broadcasters to ensure social distancing from spread of the virus and for ensuring the safety of the editorial personnel/staff has had to take various steps/make alternate arrangements within and outside the premises for news gathering/ reporting/office purposes. This has resulted in the operating costs of news broadcasters during the current pandemic/lockdown having gone up exponentially.

“Advertisements which is an integral and essential part of the business  and  the  main source of revenue for the news broadcasters has come under severe pressure during this pandemic/lock down. Advertising agencies are putting huge pressure to defer the  payments to broadcasters and to allow more time over and above the 60 days credit  period; the recovery of bills is going to be hugely challenging, while facing an even bigger task of almost zero or negligible income in the coming several months.

“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 percent 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.

“To overcome the financial crisis, we are suggesting that the MOI&B announce a stimulus package for the broadcast media by (1) increase the rates of BOC/DAVP advertisements by 50% and (2) substantial increase in budgetary allocations of  all  Ministries/ Departments and organizations of the Govt. of India for dissemination of information/communication relating to COVIND 19 pandemic by BOAC/DAVP through private satellite TV channels for its widest reach to all sections of the society.

“Further, we have been representing to the MoI&B for several years, the issue of outstanding dues of BOC/DAVP of our member broadcasters, which is pending since 2010, and there has been no resolution till date.

“We have collated the current outstanding dues reported  by our  member  broadcasters with regard to various Ministries/Departments released by BOC/ DAVP  up  to  31.3.2020. The total outstanding dues reported by members of NBA is approximately Rs.64,49,87,733/-, a substantial amount, which has  remained  unpaid over the years. Against the said outstanding, it may kindly be noted that that the outstanding dues of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting  (MoI&B)  reported by the members is approximately Rs.8,62,25,333/-.

“We are attaching three statements. Annexure 1, gives the breakup of outstanding Ministry-wise, Annexure 2 gives the breakup of the outstanding dues member-wise. Annexure 3 gives the individual member details of the said outstanding.

“We request you to kindly instruct the BOC/ DAVP to clear all the outstanding dues of various ministries and in particular the dues of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MoI&B)of approximately Rs.8,62,25,333/-. Payment of these outstanding dues of BOC/ DAVP will give  some relief to the  broadcasters who are  under severe financial stress. If the payments have not  been made  to the broadcasters  due to non-receipt of payment we request the MoI&B, to kindly take up the matter with the concerned client Ministries /Departments and organizations of the Govt. of India, to release the long overdue payment expeditiously to BOC/ DAVP.

“NBA Board members will be happy to be on a Zoom call with you and your officials to explain further the imperative need for the suggested stimulus package for the sustenance and survival of the news broadcasters. It would also give us an opportunity to discuss  other issues which we have represented to the MoI&B.”

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