Bangalore : The Indian Newspaper Society today made a pitch for enhancing the FDI ceiling in print media to 49 per cent, saying media companies need inflow of funds to expand as there are significant prospects for more growth. In his Presidential address at the 74th Annual General Meeting of the INS here, K N Tilak Kumar said that at a time when the print media in the western world was on a path of rapid decline in the last few years, in India it had grown exponentially in the last few decades and there are significant prospects for more growth in the coming years.
"To sustain this growth, media companies need inflow of funds to expand and reach every corner of the country. In this context, there is indeed a need for enhancing the FDI ceiling in the print media to 49 per cent from 26 per cent at present", Kumar said.
Raising some issues which he said are important for the health of the industry and involve government policies, Kumar said that in a free economic environment it is not only undesirable to have Wage Board mechanism for determination of wages but with the unsustainable levels of wage hikes proposed by Majithia Wage Boards for newspaper employees, it is also turning out to be detrimental to the very survival of the newspaper industry.
"As virtually no other industry has Wage Boards, there is no rationale for persisting with such boards for the print media", Kumar argued.
"We are confronted with the most unjustifiable and unsustainable levels of wage hikes recommended by Justice G R Majithia Wage Boards which the government has notified subsequently without taking a realistic view on the concerns articulated in our various representations to the government".
INS also said it viewed with serious concern the government's proposal, as reported in the press, to bring in regulation with stringent punishment leading to stoppage of DAVP advertisements and cancellation of registration of newspapers to rein in instances of the so-called "paid news".
Feeling strongly that such regulation would have far-reaching consequences for the smooth functioning of the Fourth Estate of democracy, Kumar said "these isolated instances which happened in the past are aberrations and the entire media must not be tarred with the same brush".
Maintaining that cross-media operations can reduce the cost of news gathering and news dissemination while also providing affordable access to international news, Kumar said any attempt to restrict such synergy and sharing of content among the various horizontal media platforms would throttle the well-meaning objective of large-scale penetration embarked upon by newspaper establishments.
Press Trust of India