KARACHI: The All Pakistan Newspapers Society (APNS) has expressed concern over a reported federal government’s decision that purchase of newspapers and magazines for its offices would be discontinued and called for the withdrawal of the move.

In a statement issued recently, APNS President Sarmad Ali and Secretary General Nazafreen Saigol Lakhani said: “The APNS expresses its profound concern on the news item appeared in a section of press wherein it has been stated that the federal government in the garb of austerity measures, have decided to discontinue purchase of newspapers and maga­zines for the offices of the Federal Govern­ment ministries, departments, autonomous and semi-autonomous bodies.”

They said the decision had sounded a death knell for the newspaper indus­try struggling for its survival in the present bleak economic environment.

“It was an ill-advised as well as a true description of a penny-wise pound-foolish measure,” they said.

Punjab to clear dues in one month

The APNS office-bearers stated that the decision, if implemented, would have devastating impact on the liquidity conditions of the already crisis-ridden newspaper industry and would badly reflect on the relations between the present unity government and the media.

The APNS urged Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to review and with­draw such anti-media moves which would only save some peanuts but would be highly counter-productive for the press-government relations and survival of the print media.

In a separate development, Punjab Chief Minister Chaudhry Parvez Elahi held out the assurance regarding the cleara­nce of dues of newspapers in one month, implementation of 25 per cent quota and release of colour ads to regional newspapers and review of Punjab’s advertising policy in consultation with APNS.

He was speaking to a delegation of the APNS comprising Society’s President Sarmad Ali, Mujeebur Rahman Shami, Jamil Ather, Nazafreen Saigol Lakhani, Shahab Zuberi, Khushnood Ali Khan, Umar Mujib Shami, Mumtaz Tahir, Awais Khushnood, Mumtaz Ali Shah, S.M. Munir Jillani, Humayon Gulzar, Humayon Tariq, Sajjad Bukhari and Bilal Mahmood.

The chief minister was apprised about the problems and issues being faced by the newspaper industry in general and Punjab-based publications in particular. CM Elahi advised the DGPR Punjab to clear the outstanding dues of news­papers within one month. In response to the APNS request, he announced that henceforth 25pc quota for regional newspapers would be implemented for all provincial govern­ment’s advertisements, including colour ads.

He was apprised on the concerns of APNS on the province’s advertising policy. Mr Elahi decided to form a committee of stakeholders comprising the representatives of the information department and APNS to review the advertising policy and suggest changes to it.

Principal Secretary to CM Muhammad Khan Bhatti, provincial Secretary Information Asif Bilal Lodhi and DGPR Punjab Afraz Ahmed were present at the meeting.

Later, the Executive Committee of APNS at a meeting noted that the federal government despite various assurances given to APNS had not implemented its policy of clearing long outstanding dues of the print media.

The federal government has also not announced an increase in the government advertisement rates and quantum as promised by the prime minister at a meeting with APNS and the federal information minister in her interactions with the Society.

It was agreed that APNS would apprise the prime minister of this delay and request him to address the problems faced by the newspaper industry.

The executive committee was also apprised that the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government had not cleared the long outstanding dues of over Rs1.5 billion relating to the provincial government’s advertise­ments. It was decided that the APNS office-bearers would take up the matter with the KP government on an urgent basis.

Published in Dawn, November 28th, 2022

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