Newsprint cost up 20%; publishers seek duty waiver, govt support

PTI New Delhi | Updated on January 17, 2021

Cost of paper used to publish newspapers and magazines has jumped 20 per cent in the past three months due to demand-supply imbalance following the pandemic, prompting news publishers to rush to the government seeking waiver of 5 per cent import duty to help cut cost.

An industry that was facing headwinds from a slowing economy even before the pandemic, was hit hard when readers stopped buying newspapers and magazines on fears of virus transmission.

Now, the rising cost of newsprint — created due to a drastic fall in supplies after 3 million tonnes of manufacturing capacities were either closed or converted to brown paper grades worldwide — has dealt a second blow that is threatening the survival of the industry.

Indian Newspaper Society (INS) President L Adimoolam said most newspapers have stopped sending hard copies to rural areas with readership of less than 50 copies, to reduce the distribution cost.

In a representation to Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, INS has suggested cutting customs on import of newsprints.

“If working out a stimulus package for print media is difficult at this juncture, DAVP (Directorate of Advertising and Visual Publicity) may please consider releasing advertisement for all its departments to all publications with an increased tariff of 50 per cent, which would be highly helpful for the industry as a whole,” the INS representation said.

It has also sought extension of the validity of RNI (Registrar of Newspapers for India) Circulation Certificates up to March 31, 2022, which will enable DAVP rates to remain the same till next year. It is estimated that the print media would take two-three years to recover from the current situation, the INS added.

Published on January 17, 2021

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