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ISLAMABAD: Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has proposed allocation of 2.5 percent of total outlay of Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) projects for running “effective” media campaigns, official sources told Business Recorder.

Sharing details, sources said, Ministry of Information & Broadcasting briefed the Cabinet on July 27, 2021 that according to the Rules of Business, 1973 (Schedule-II) Section 16, one of its mandates is to formulate policy regarding government advertisements, control of advertisements and their placement. Similarly, all advertisements of the federal ministries/divisions/departments/organisations /statutory/autonomous and semi-autonomous bodies were centralized with the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.

This scheme of Centralization of Advertisement was introduced in July, 1966 and provided for the release of all newspaper advertisements (both classified and display) emanating from ministries/divisions/departments/autonomous organisations and statutory bodies under the control of the federal government through Press Information Department (PID) and Directorate of Film and Publication (DFP), attached departments of the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting. The direction for the centralization of all advertisements was conveyed on July 1, 1966 by the Federal Government which was re-affirmed by various governments in 1980, 1985 and 2003.

According to the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, there had been an “exponential” growth in the print, electronic and particularly digital media in Pakistan. The rapidly changing media landscape and newly emerging media platforms of social and digital media demand a comprehensive and holistic media policy that would cover traditional as well as new media.

In view of massive growth in media, the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting sent a draft advertisement policy on December 27, 2019 for approval of the Prime Minister. However, Prime Minister’s Office conveyed a set of observations on the draft advertisement policy with instructions to re-submit the summary with appropriate response to those observations. Accordingly, the draft Advertisement Policy 2021 was revised.

During a discussion in the Cabinet, it was pointed out that the Policy entailed earmarking 2.5% of the total budget outlay of any PSDP project for running an effective media campaign. It was opined that this would tremendously inflate the advertisement budget, which might not even be utilized. The Minister for Information & Broadcasting clarified that due to absence of advertisement budget for the projects, supplementary grants had to be resorted to at the end. It was suggested that the quantum of the advertisement budget shall be left for the ECNEC to decide. A member expressed reservations on too much centralization of the decisions with the Information & Broadcasting Division and was of the view that some aspects would be best served remaining with the sponsoring Division.

After a detailed discussion, the Cabinet approved, in principle, the Advertisement Policy 2021, with the stipulation that guidelines shall be prepared (and incorporated in the policy) by Planning, Development & Special Initiatives Division, with the approval of ECNEC, for percentage of total budget outlay of any PSDP project for running an effective media campaign. The Cabinet further directed that pursuant to approval of ECNEC, the Advertisement Policy, 2021 shall be resubmitted for approval of the Cabinet as soon as possible.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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