New Delhi: Outgoing president of Indian Newspaper Society (INS) Ravindra Kumar today (Friday) said a new law is required to govern salary and other issues relating to print media and called the wage boards “life-threatening disease” as their recommendations have put a “crippling burden” on the industry. In his Presidential address at the 75th annual general meeting of INS, Kumar said implementation of recommendations of the Majithia Wage Board has badly hit all newspaper establishments and urged the government to do away with them.
“The wage board has already placed a crippling burden on all newspaper establishments, and its weight will affect us more with each passing year,” he said.
Demanding immediate scrapping of the “wholly one sided” Working Journalists and Other Newspaper Employees Act, he said a new law should be enacted taking on board views of all stakeholders. INS was founded in 1939 and it comprises the owners, proprietors and publishers of print media. Kumar said it was time to press for a new law when the NDA government was revisiting “all institutional frameworks including erstwhile holy cows such as Planning Commission”.
Kumar said the INS has long maintained that government must do away with Wage Boards because they are “anachronistic, unrealistic and wholly arbitrary in their scope and ambit”.
“The time to resist the infliction of Wage Board is now, not once they are announced because then a fait accompli will be presented to us,” he said. Kumar also expressed concern over “paid news” and said the situation must change if press is to remain “vibrant, free and relevant”.
“It is time to accept that a practice as reprehensible as ‘paid news’ — an oxymoron foisted upon Indian society by the greed of some of us — is the inevitable consequence of a situation where the reader pays a fraction of the cost of a newspaper,” he said.
The outgoing INS president also called upon the members to deal with policy decisions concerning newsprint, wages and taxation in a “united fashion”. Referring to revenue collection, he said some state governments have been playing “ducks and drakes” with newspapers withholding advertisements to some and stopping payments to others.
He also slammed West Bengal Government for “obdurate position” taken by it in settling newspaper bills, particularly for refusing to settle bills of the previous regime. Kumar also delved on issues concerning newsprint imports and DAVP tariffs. Kiran B Vadodaria of Gujarati newspaper Sambhaav Metro was today elected as the new President of the INS for 2014-15, succeeding Kumar.