New Delhi: The central government owes over Rs 200 crore to various media outlets as payment with regards to government advertisements, its recent response to an RTI query revealed.
Of that, over ₹147 crore is pending to print media outlets alone, the reply to a Right to Information (RTI) query made by law student Aniket Gaurav said.
As per The Hindu, there are more than 76,000 outstanding bills for print media campaigns pending with the Directorate of Advertising and Visual Publicity (DAVP), the oldest of which dates as far back as 2004.
For electronic media, the pending amount is ₹67 crore, while the unpaid bills for outdoor publicity amount to almost ₹18 crores.
Gaurav, a first-year law student at Meerut University, said he had sent the query as he was concerned about the number of newspapers which were being shut down.
“As a reader, I feel that the major reason for any newspaper shutting down would be because of loss of revenue. As government ads constitute a large part of revenue, so I thought I should find out whether the government is paying for its ads on time, and which Ministries have unpaid bills,” he said. “I was shocked to find that there are ads which have not been paid for 17 years.”
The RTI response from the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting provided data on the outstanding bills that Central Ministries owed to the DAVP, which in turn pays media organizations for running advertising campaigns.
The largest pending amounts for print media come from the Defence Ministry, which has 12,271 unpaid bills worth more than ₹16 crores, followed by the Finance Ministry, with 6,668 unpaid bills worth ₹13 crores. The information is updated until June 21, 2021.