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Stopping Government ads will kill the sector and create job losses: IBF

The Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF) said it is ‘deeply saddened’ by Congress President Sonia Gandhi’s call for a complete ban on media advertisements by the government and public sector undertakings (PSUs) for a period of two years.

The apex body of  broadcasters said it would oppose any move by the government to cut the revenue for government advertising from PSUs.

The statement is in response to the Congress leader’s five-point suggestion letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on tackling the coronavirus pandemic. Among other suggestions like putting ‘all foreign visits’ on hold, Gandhi also suggested a ban on TV, print and online media ads by the government for two years, with the exception of coronavirus-related information.

In a press release, IBF said that it stands indomitably with the Government of India in its fight against the Covid-19 outbreak. 

“Broadcasters are voluntarily seizing the initiative, have been advising, educating and informing the public about the various measures taken by the Government of India to fight against the pandemic and also urging them to stay home and be safe,” the apex body said. 

“Like other sectors which have been economically impacted by the Covid-19 outbreak, the media and Broadcasting industry cannot claim immunity,” IBF said adding, “In these testing times, any decision by the Government to curtail budgetary allocation to advertisements…will sound the death knell for the sector.”

It also added that regional and smaller channels whose overwhelming dependence on Government ads will be worst hit with such curtailment of ad revenues. 

“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 & Entertainment sector is already facing the brunt of the slowdown. Advertisement bookings have nosedived by nearly 50%,” the statement added. 

“At this critical moment when the nation stands united to deal with the aftermath of the COVID-19 outbreak, we request all parties to give a thought for the media sector which is known for its neutrality and objectivity,” IBF said. 

Earlier, News Broadcasters Association (NBA) has also issued a statement ‘strongly deploring’ the Congress leader’s suggestion.

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