KARACHI: The remarks of the caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar about “flawed business model” of print media have disappointed the All Pakistan Newspapers Society (APNS) and Council of Pakistan Newspapers Editors (CPNE).
In a statement issued Wednesday, APNS expressed great shock at a statement made by the PM, against the print media wherein he has stated that the business model of print media is flawed and it should not depend on government for financial support.
The APNS expressed great disappointment at these remarks of the caretaker Prime Minister against print media while speaking to the media at Islamabad.
The Prime Minister, while answering a question on the pending summary of the Ministry of Information for an increase in the government advertisement rates, stated that the print media should change its flawed business model and instead of depending on government funding should generate revenue through its own resources.
It appears that the Prime Minister is ill-informed about the summary as the print media is not seeking any grant or subsidy from the government but on the contrary, newspapers publish government ads at subsidised rates. Government advertising rates are far lower, at about one fourth of commercial rates.
The outgoing Prime Minister, Mian Shahbaz Sharif, had announced a long pending increase in the government advertisement rates, the summary of which is still lying with the Finance Ministry.
It may also be noted that alarmingly the Federal Government owes almost Rs.2 billion to newspapers towards payment of long outstanding bills. If the respected Prime Minister thinks this business model is flawed, then the print media is prepared to correct the flawed model by withdrawing these subsidised rates being offered to the government by newspapers.
However, the CPNE in its statement expressed dismay over the statement of the caretaker Prime Minister and linking the questions asked about the media freedom to the government advertisements for newspapers. It said that it seems the Prime Minister was provided misguiding information in this regard.
The CPNE said that the print media has never asked any government or Prime Minister to grant their personal resources to the media, but every government and every department depend on the media for their publicity. The funding for advertisements doesn’t belong to any ruler but it is taxpayers’ money, which should be spent judiciously on government advertisements.
It said nowhere in the world, governments do business or control advertisements or seek privileges from the print media in editorial matters. The media has govt media freedom not as a dole out but there is a long struggle and sacrifices behind it.
It further said that a delegation of CPNE standing committee on October 12, 2023 had called on the caretaker Prime Minister in Islamabad and told him that it has no objection on the distribution of government advertisements.
However, it is the responsibility of the present government to implement the rise in rate of government advertisements as announced by the previous government and pay the outstanding dues of the government advertisements to the print media.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2023