July 26th, 2021 

By Rehan Piracha 


LAHORE

An official summary on the country’s first-ever digital media advertising policy has been sent to the federal cabinet for approval, Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry told Voicepk.net on Monday.

News websites must be locally-based and should be operational for over six months to receive government advertisements under the proposed policy, government officials said. On July 23, the Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors (CPNE) quoted the federal information minister as having said that his ministry had finalised the digital advertisement policy for newspaper and other news websites. The minister expressed his condolences over the death of the council’s president Arif Nizami while talking to members of the council. Chaudhry said that summary of the digital policy would be presented before the federal cabinet’s meeting next week for approval.

In the meeting, Principal Information Officer Sohail Ali Khan said the government would separately issue advertisements to news websites under the proposed policy, the CPNE said. “The information minister said regional and local newspapers would be granted a separate quota,” the CPNE statement added.

Conditions for websites

According to the CPNE statement, any news site which is activated for more than six months will be considered eligible for advertisements. Such advertisements will be monitored through the cyber wing.

Arslan Khalid, Focal Person To Prime Minister on Digital Media, told Voicepk.net that news websites not affiliated with any newspapers would also be eligible for government advertisements under the proposed digital media advertising policy. “The news websites should have local presence in the country to benefit from digital media advertising policy,” he said.

Asked whether the locally-based news websites affiliated with foreign newspapers or news agencies would also be eligible for government advertisements, Khalid hinted that there was no apparent bar on such websites. “I don’t think of any reason for them to be excluded if they have an office here,” he said.

CPNE demands

Speaking with Voicepk.net, Kazim Khan, senior vice president of CPNE, said the council had demanded that the federal government bring about a policy to compensate newspapers for government advertisements that are depicted on their e-paper editions on websites and social media platforms.

“Presently, the e-paper of newspapers carry government advertisements given to print editions of the newspapers. However, there is no mechanism for payment of government advertisements on the e-paper editions,” Khan said. He said the small regional and local newspapers do not have the resources to remove the print advertisements for their e-paper editions. “Revenue from government advertisements on e-paper editions would support regional and local papers stay afloat especially after the downturn in the economy amid the COVID pandemic,” he added.

Secondly, Kazim Khan, stated that the CPNE also wanted the government to develop a mechanism to base rates of government advertisements not only on circulation as well as the impact of the newspapers concerned. “The CPNE also demanded that the digital media advertising policy must differentiate between authentic and reliable news sites from those being operated by a single person,” he added.

The CPNE vice president said the council demanded an advertisements quota for small regional and local newspapers. He said the senior government officials told them that the information ministry had proposed an initial budget of Rs 1 billion for digital media advertising under the policy. However, he said the federal government had not shared the mechanism for distribution of advertisements among the news websites as well as the proposed rates of the digital advertisements.

CPNE’s senior vice president Kazim Khan and provincial presidents Irshad Ahmed Arif and Ayaz Khan expressed their gratitude to the information minister over his efforts for the approval of the digital policy in the meeting, the CPNE statement concluded.

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