PIB responds to Newslaundry report on parliament data on ads

‘The figures given in the reply of RTI in Dec 2019 and those submitted in the parliament in Feb 2021 are both correct,’ says the Press Information Bureau.

WrittenBy:NL Team
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On July 10, Newslaundry reported about discrepancies in a pair of datasets produced by Narendra Modi government’s related to its expenditure on media advertisements. One set was presented in the parliament in February this year and the other under the RTI Act in December 2019.

In a rebuttal to Newslaundry, the Press Information Bureau has stated that the parliament data only concerned the ad commitment to news channels, not actual expenditure.

Here’s the PIB’s response in full:

This refers to the article ‘Did the Modi government give parliament dubious data on media ads’ related to the commitment made to and payment received by few Hindi and English News channels published by newslaundry.com.

In the matter it is clarified that payments are released to the TV channels as per the actual execution of the release order as certified in Third Party Monitoring Report (TPMR). Payment released may be less than the actual commitment if the spots are not telecast fully as per the release order or there is other deficiency as per accounting procedure of the Government of India.

The figures given in the reply of RTI in Dec 2019 and those submitted in the parliament in Feb 2021 are both correct. These figures are given at two different points of time in two different contexts hence are not comparable.

The report published on Newslaundry is based on misrepresentation of facts without due verification. The story is misleading and presents data out of its context. .

Having said the above, I hope this rejoinder will be published and an apology will be tendered.

It should be noted that both the datasets were compiled by the Directorate of Advertising and Visual Publicity, or DAVP, a media unit of the information and broadcasting ministry.

The Newslaundry report emphasised that two ad expenditure datasets prepared by the DAVP for news channels for the year 2017-18 did not match.

For example, Aaj Tak received Rs 3.7 crore worth of ads in 2017-18, as per the data presented in the parliament. According to the RTI data, however, this figure dropped to Rs 2.4 crore. Conversely, the Hindi channel NDTV India got Rs 1.5 lakh in ads in 2017-18, according to the DAVP’s figures given to the parliament. But the sum swells to Rs 1.16 crore as per the RTI numbers for that year.

An official in the information and broadcasting ministry told Newslaundry that while the parliament data only detailed ad commitments to news channels, the RTI figures were the central government’s actual expenditure.

Even though the rebuttal explains how ad expenditure might be less than ad commitment, it does not clarify instances where the former exceeds the latter, like in the case of NDTV India and CNN News18. The official blamed news channels for this. “If a channel got no ad commitment in a specific year yet received ad money from the government that year, it is likely that it produced old bills for ads run in previous years,” the official said.


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