Guwahati: Northeast India based two active scribes bodies have urged the managements of newspaper and news channels based in the trouble torn region to offer basic minimum facilities to the media employees.Expressing serious concern at the pitiable salaries, offered to newspaper and news channel workers by the respective managements, both the bodies asserted that the condition has direct implications on the health of journalism as well.The media persons’ organizations disclosed that most of the media employees in northeast India are working in a helpless situation, precisely the private television journalists, and asked the concerned authority to look into the matter. They argued that nearly 80% working journalists of the region have to work with pitiable salaries, unlimited working hours without even a break and no insurance coverage.
The latest wave of demands gained momentum after the Government of Assam decided to increase the government sponsored advertisement rates for the newspapers by 60 per cent over the existing rates. Both the Electronic Media Forum Assam (EMFA) and the Journalists’ Forum Assam (JFA) have come out with press statements that the journalist and non-journalist media employees, engaged in newspapers and satellite news channels of the region should get minimum facilities recommended by concerned laws.
The EMFA appealed to the Assam government to enhance the rates of government sponsored advertisements telecast through news channels such that they can offer better financial packages to their employee. The JFA urged the managements of media organizations to ensure lawful dues for their employees.
Mentionable is that a recent meeting held in Assam Secretariat in presence of State information & public relations minister Basanta Das, where the representatives from both the State government and newspaper owners association were present, resulted in the declaration of government advertisement rate hikes.
Earlier the newspaper owners under the banner of Northeast Newspapers Society took the path of agitations against the failure of Assam government to hike its advertisement rates and even avoided publishing government advertisements and related news since December 24. Following the assurance from the State information & public relations minister in the meeting that the government advertisement rates, last fixed in 2009, would be hiked by 60 percent with effect from 1 January 2014, the newspaper association lifted the ban on government advertisements and news on January 3.
Appreciating the announcement of government advertisement rates hike in the print media, the electronic media body urged the Tarun Gogoi led government in Dispur to increase the rates of government sponsored advertisements for the news channels too. “All the news channels of Assam are registered as free-to-air channels and thus they are dependent on advertisements alone for their survival. Unlike th newspapers, these news channels do not get any money from their million of subscribers across the country,” said the EMFA statement.
The EMFA and JFA have also unanimously called the managements of news channels and newspapers in Assam to use the enhanced fund for the benefit of the employees with structured salaries and other legitimate allowances, as many of them are still deprived of benefits recommended by statutory wage boards. Pointing out to the tendency of many media house managements in Assam to divert funds for their personal business interest, the JFA also insisted on an annual media audit for all media outlets, so that the employees of media organizations in particular and reader-audiences in general can have a clear picture about the media industry as a whole.
Report by NJ Thakuria