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JAMMU, May 2: The coronavirus outbreak and lockdown has severely affected the print media in J&K as over several newspapers have been forced to suspend publications due to lack of transport facilities.
Some of the affected media organisations have started putting out online editions to keep their readership intact.
“Several medium and small newspapers from various districts have stopped printing their editions in the absence of transport facilities and drastic decline in advertisements,” Shri Rama Sena (SRS) J&K President Rajiv Mahajan said in a statement here on Saturday.
Mahajan maintained that hawkers have stopped distributing newspapers since March 25, contending that they do not want to put their lives to risk in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak in J&K.
After stopping their print editions, some media houses are bringing out e-papers to stay alive in the news market, he said adding that the number of advertisements has also gone down.
The cost of production has doubled or tripled in the absence of advertisements, he rued.
“Right now, our priority is to keep our circulation, through reduced, intact and this is also turning out to be a daunting task. We are ones at the receiving end,” he said.
“The printed word still has a lot of sanctity. Successive governments have throttled the print medium. The changing revenue model of media has also affected the reach of the print. The ability of print media to survive such crisis, as we confront now, has been tested,” he added.
“Newspaper owners, editors and media professional making all-out efforts to live with the virus onslaught rather lest rumour mongers should be pressing the panic button,” Mahajan said.
“The absence of newspapers will pave way for more rumours, misinformation and panic and the ‘WhatsApp University’ will go berserk,” he said.
Mahajan further said that Central and J&K Governments should provide economic stimulus, support and sustain media houses till the lockdown period gets over.
People treat print media as the prime and credible source of information, Mahajan contended and requested LG G.C Murmu for quick release government advertisements’ due so that journalists of small newspapers get their salaries during these testing times.
“The medium and small newspapers survive mainly on the state governments advertisements,” he added.
Mahajan further said that newspaper industry is facing an unprecedented crisis with no advertising revenue, huge input costs.
He demanded 50 per cent increase in advertisement rate and 100 per cent increase in budget spend for print media and immediate settlement of payment towards all outstanding bills of advertising from DIPR.
The gap is normally made up through advertisements which have drastically gone down, as industries and manufacturers have stopped advertising due to shutting of activities, he said.
“Many small and medium newspapers have already suspended publishing and other newspapers are facing serious challenges and if they collapse, it is bound to affect the domestic newsprint manufacturing industry too. Such a situation will have a ripple effect thus affecting large number of employees, their families as well as allied industries, printing presses, distribution mechanism, newspaper vendors and delivery boys,” he said.