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For whom the bell tolls?

The Annual Report of the Indian Newspaper Society (INS) points to the newspaper business revenues impacted by demonetisation and GST. In line with the flat growth recorded by the economy, advertising revenues appeared stagnant. Acute competition from the electronic medium has been affecting revenues. 

The INS has been a society of, for and by large newspapers. Large print houses with multiple publications dominate the Society. The practice of the same group getting into the committee through different member newspapers has been a long INS tradition. 

Post-liberalisation there has been fewer restrictions on the media. The one grievance relates to the government continuing with the statutory wage fixation for newspaper employees. No other industry has wage boards! Print media has been singled out for this special treatment: TV, radio, internet are not covered by such a privileged status! Of course, newspapers are smarter: leaders like Sameer Jain and N Ram switched to term-contracts for employment. There are today editorial consultants galore!

There is much less load on INS which, like its major constituents, thrives on real estate. Its second expensive real estate property, now in Mumbai, is nearing completion. The space made available at huge cost is naturally affordable only by its most prosperous members.

Though INS membership comprises of a vast number of small and medium publications, these get little service except the promise of assured payment in 60 days from accredited agencies. Especially outstation small newspapers, get little service. 

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