The Narendra Modi government released details of its advertisement expenditure to the parliament earlier this week. Newslaundry which news broadcasters cornered how much of the money on Thursday.
The government’s expenditure on ads in the print media is now public as well. The numbers show that the ad revenue of the Hindi daily Dainik Bhaskar fell 47 percent in 2021-22 compared to the previous financial year.
The drop coincides with the paper’s of the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic in April and May 2021 which over a million people in India by one estimate and cast a critical light on the Modi government’s handling of the crisis.
The data was presented by the information and broadcasting ministry in the Rajya Sabha, in response to a question by Congress leader Naranbhai Rathwa. The ministry provided a publication-wise breakup of the central government’s ads to newspapers between April 2020 and March 2022.
In 2020-21, Bhaskar raked in Rs 5.95 crore in ads from the government. In 2021-22, this figure fell to Rs 3.15 crore. Similarly, the ad revenue of its Gujarati daily Divya Bhaskar fell from Rs 1.07 crore in 2020-21 to Rs 68 lakh.
Bhaskar’s competitor, Dainik Jagran, which rarely hides its , did not witness such a slump in ad revenue. Jagran got Rs 13.1 crore in ads from the central government in 2020-21 and Rs 12.47 crore in 2021-22.
Navbharat Times, the Hindi daily of the Times group, went from Rs 3.87 crore to Rs 3.58 crore in that time. Hindustan Times group’s Hindustan went from Rs 5.22 crore to Rs 5 crore.
Another Hindi daily Amar Ujala registered a hike in ad revenue from the Modi government. It went from Rs 4.73 crore in 2020-21 to Rs 5.19 crore in 2021-22.
Among the 12 top Hindi newspapers that Newslaundry looked at, Bhaskar cornered the second highest ad revenue from the central government in 2020-21, only behind Jagran. In 2021-22, however, the year it was by the Income Tax department, it fell to 5th position, behind even Navbharat Times.
Government ads are an essential revenue stream in the news business. From 2020 to 2022, it was Jagran that dominated this game, followed by Hindustan, Amar Ujala and Navbharat Times.
The only Urdu daily to break into this list is Inquilab, a property of the Jagran group. The group’s English property, Mid Day, got Rs 48 lakh in ads from the central government in the two years.
Dainik Jagran is, according to the , India’s largest circulated daily. But large circulation does not guarantee ad money. The ad revenues collected by English newspapers, which have a fraction of the Hindi dailies’ reach, is a testament.
The government data shows that the Times of India collected Rs 35 crore in ads from the Modi government between 2020 and 2022, more than any other newspaper in the country. The paper is the Times group’s cash cow, when compared to its news channels and their .
The Times of India was followed by Hindustan Times, which collected Rs 24 crore. The Hindu stood a distant third with Rs 6.65 crore, followed by Hyderabad-based Deccan Chronicle at Rs 6.5 crore.
The Indian Express managed Rs 2 crore in ads from the Modi government in this period. Its business offering, Financial Express, brought in another Rs 32.7 lakh and its Hindi daily, Jansatta, fished in nearly Rs 14 lakh.
The New Indian Express made Rs 1.5 crore, behind the Chandigarh-based Tribune and the Karnataka-based Deccan Herald.
Among pink papers, Economic Times received the most ad money with Rs 1.29 crore, followed by the Hindu Businessline with Rs 42 lakh and Business Standard with Rs 32.7 lakh.
Among Kolkata-based dailies, the Statesman emerged over the Telegraph. The former received Rs 2 crore in ads from the central government and the latter only Rs 1.1 crore.
Reet Sahni and Aanchal Poddar contributed to reporting.
Update at 2.30 pm, Dec 19: Dainik Bhaskar fell to 5th position in 2021-22, not 8th. This has been corrected.
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