9th Jul 2019 10:07:PM Editorials
Eastern Sentinel Arunachal News

At a time when the entire print media industry is facing an existential crisis, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s announcement of a 10 % customs duty on newsprint in the general budget has come as a rude shock. The Indian Journalists Union(IJU), Indian Newspaper Society(INS) andAssociation of Indian Magazines (AIM) voicing their concern in unison, have urged the union government to withdraw this burden so that the print media industry can at least continue its struggle for survival. The situation is really that alarming since print media is already fighting an array of multiple negative factors such as lower advertisement revenues, higher costs and digital onslaughts. With such hard realities, this unexpected announcement has brought despondency for the entire industry and it now seems that there is no alternative but to wait if the government revokes the duty responding to the fervent appeals that are flowing in thick and fast.

As per the proposal, this duty will be applicable both to uncoated paper used for printing of newspapers and lightweight coated paper used for magazines and along with it, a 5% custom duty on imported books has also been imposed. 2018 had been a particularly bad year for Indian newspaper industry since newsprint prices rose by 40-60% a tonne which was largely due to China’s decision of stopping newsprint production as a part of its efforts to curb excess pollution. First six months of 2019 was no encouraging either with shutting down of several newsprint mills worldwide because of  falling newsprint consumption leading to a supply crunch and rise of prices. And now with this  imposition, the first of its kind since there was no import duty on newsprint so far, it is obvious that the already existing heat on the country’s print media industry will intensify. It will be almost bewildering and totally difficult to arrive at a justification behind this move if the relevant factors are objectively assessed. It is a fact that in India, newsprint is by far the dominant input cost and even a little upswing in its prices has long term adverse effects particularly because the country is still predominantly dependent on imported newsprint. And it can’t also be denied that acute depreciation of rupee by more than 20 % against dollar during the last few months has only already fattened the import bill of newsprint.

Many industry experts had termed it ‘drastic’ and a round-about way of promoting digital media at the expense of the ‘death of print media’ which is a debatable issue, better to keep aside for future discussion. That what is immediately wished and expected is complete roll back of this harsh step. It’s a raw deal which the principal torch-bearer of the fourth pillar of democracy doesn’t deserve. 

Kenter Joya Riba

(Managing Editor)
      She is a graduate in Science with post graduation in Sociology from University of Pune. She has been in the media industry for nearly a decade. Before turning to print business, she has been associated with radio and television.
Email: kenterjoyaz@easternsentinel.in / editoreasternsentinel@gmail.com
Phone: 0360-2212313

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