The central government owes various newspapers and magazines more than Rs 147 crore for running its advertisements, with the Directorate of Advertising and Visual Publicity sitting on 76,000 outstanding bills, some dating back to 2004, the Hindu , citing numbers released under the RTI Act. The government also owes Rs 67 crore to the electronic media and about Rs 18 crore for outdoor publicity.
The largest debtor for the print media is the defence ministry, which owes over Rs 16 crore, and for TV news channels it’s the road transport and highways ministry, which is yet to clear bills totalling Rs 67 crore as of June 21, 2021.
Notably, the government’s RTI Act response stated that in case of the electronic media, “a full list of the number of outstanding bills was not readily available, nor were records maintained regarding the date of the bills”.
Aniket Gaurav, a Meerut University law student who obtained the information under the RTI Act, told the Hindu he was concerned a number of newspapers were shutting down. “As government ads constitute a large part of revenue,” he added, “I thought I should find out whether the government is paying for its ads on time and which ministries have unpaid bills.”