INS asks govt to withdraw customs duty on newsprint

By 10 Jul 2019

The Indian Newspaper Society (INS) has requested the Centre to withdraw the 10% customs duty imposed on newsprint, uncoated paper used for printing of newspapers, and lightweight coated papers used for magazines, the organisation said on 8 July. The move comes in the wake of the imposition of customs duty announced by finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman while presenting the Union budget on 5 July 2019.

The move comes in the wake of the imposition of customs duty announced by finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman while presenting the Union budget on 5 July 2019

INS has referred to the challenges that the print industry faces to support its argument.

“Publishers of newspapers and magazines are already reeling under severe financial pressure due to many factors like lower advertisement revenues, higher costs and digital onslaught from technological giants. Small and medium newspapers will go into deeper losses and many of them will be forced to close down," it said.

The total consumption of newsprint in India is estimated at 2.5-million tonnes per annum and the capacity of the domestic industry is only 1-million tonnes. There are no domestic manufacturers of uncoated and lightweight coated paper.

INS urged to government to intervene and save the Indian newspaper industry by scrapping the unbearable burden imposed on it, the statement added.

The obstacles faced by the industry need no reiteration. The growth of digital news outlets and click-bait journalism, as well as the need to put out news as soon as it breaks has increasingly spelled doom for in-depth analysis and stories that take time to reach the reader.

The print segment remained static in 2018, growing at a mere 0.7% to reach 30,550-crore, according to the Ficci-EY media and entertainment industry report 2019. The year, on the other hand, witnessed a 26% growth in digital news consumers over 2017 when 222-million people consumed news online. Page views grew 59% over 2017 and average time spent increased by almost 100% to eight minutes per day in 2018.

Newspaper advertising reduced by 1% while magazine advertising fell 10%, because of reduced ad volumes and pressure on effective rates. Print circulation revenue in India grew by 1.2% in 2018 to reach 8,830-crore and circulation revenues contributed as little as 29% of the overall revenues of the print segment.

Newspaper circulation grew only by around 2% across languages between January and June 2018, according to data from the Audit Bureau of Circulation, as compared to the same period in 2017.

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