The Centre’s expenditure on advertisements has been coming down since FY19. In a written reply, Minister for Information and Broadcasting Anurag Thakur told the Rajya Sabha that the expenditure incurred on print and electronic advertisements was ₹280.28 crore in FY22. It was a whopping ₹1,105.01 crore in FY18.

The data for earlier years — as to how much the government spent on advertisements from FY15, revealed in an RTI filed by a Madhya Pradesh based activist Vivek Pandey and accessed by BusinessLine — shows that the expenditure had peaked in 2017-18. However, since then it went down every financial year.

The dip started getting steeper in FY20 (35 per cent reduction in spending), when there was an economic slowdown. Then in FY21, during the pandemic, it shrunk by another 40.3 per cent. In FY22, it shrank by an additional 23.28 per cent. During FY21 and FY22 together, when the pandemic wreaked havoc, the Centre spent ₹645.63 crore on advertisements.

As terms change...

The first term of the Modi government (FY15-FY19) saw ₹5,062.09 crore being spent on advertisements alone. In the first three financial years, the spending was ₹3,013.25 crore, close to 60 per cent of the total money. However, the money that the second Modi government spent in this regard is much lesser, according to the data. In the first three financial years of the second term — FY20, FY21 and FY22 together — only ₹1,257.79 crore (less than half the money spent during the first three years of NDA-1) was spent.

Print vs electronic

The data also says the government’s spending on electronic media advertisements has been particularly low since FY20. While ₹514.28 crore was spent on electronic media advertisements — that includes advertisements on televisions, internet and promotions via SMS, radio and theatre — in FY22, only ₹101.24 crore was spent in this regard. It came down by 38.3 per cent, 47 per cent and 39. per cent in FY20, FY21 and FY22 respectively.

While the spending on print ads has also come down, the cut isn’t that steep. Unconventional enough, the government has been spending more money on print ads, compared to electronic media ads in the last two financial years.

In the ongoing financial year, between April 1 and July 12, the government has spent ₹19.26 crore on print and ₹13.6 crore on online advertisements.