By Asif Husain
These are the “Achche Din” for advertisement companies. They seem to be flourishing and happy about it. TV channels, print media , bill-board advertisement agencies, radio stations, websites, mobile companies are a few who are smiling their way to the banks.
It all started during the 2014 election. It was the costliest democratic election in which mostly undeclared money (or call it black money) was spent.
For the BJP, it was a do-or-die situation and hence it spurlged on advertisement.
Its contribution report filed with ECI says, 714.28 crore rupees were spent on publicity (which includes media advertisement) during the last 2014 elections. And, as Raghuram Rajan said, we as a nation, have refined our ‘Jugaad’ skills. We might as well read between the lines and estimate the real amount spent on those elections.
Many reports and estimates by people in the business of media publicity have shown figures ranging from 5000 to 10,000 crore rupees spent on publicity by the NDA.
Those were the elections days, but ever since then, we have been bombarded with advertisements of government schemes and achievements. Everyday, your newspaper will features full page or half page advertisements with images of the costliest PM. Media houses survive on advertisements. Hence it does strike one if the integrity of media policies and ethics are safe in an environment of advertisement blitz.
Reports suggest that the present government spent more then 1.4 crore rupees daily only on advertisement. 1190.53 crore rupees were spent in 2015-16 were spent in the advertisment of welfare schemes, a whopping 19% increase compared to 2014-15.
Till July 2015 Rs.8,54,74,783 was spent on print advertisements alone. In just one year, Rs. 100 crores were spent on the advertisment of Swach Bharat Abhiyan. In last two years, an estimated 2000 crore rupees were spent on media publicity by the government.
Whose money is it? Will the CAG and SC take to task such blatant wastefulness of public money?
Will the media discuss issues objectively and be critical of a government that gives them business worth in crores? Can this huge fund be diverted to more pressing and immediate needs? Can government publicity officers come up with alternative cost effective means of publicity for government schemes?