PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government released advertisements worth more than Rs1.44 billion to regional and national newspapers during the last three years, the provincial assembly has been told.
The details released by the provincial information department show that the directorate of information released advertisements worth over Rs1.44 billion to regional and national dallies published from KP, Islamabad and Rawalpindi in 2018, 2019 and 2020.
The statistics do not include the ads, which the departments and attached directorates directly released to different newspapers.
The details of advertisements were sought by MPA Inayatullah Khan through a question in the assembly.
The official documents submitted to the provincial assembly on Tuesday revealed that the directorate of information released ads worth Rs1.07 billion to 66 newspapers including dummy papers published from Peshawar during the past three years.
Similarly, 24 national dallies published from Islamabad and Rawalpindi had been released ads worth Rs250 million.
The cash value of ads released to 28 newspapers published from different towns of KP was Rs100 million. Majority of the newspapers published from Peshawar and other district headquarters are small time papers having very nominal circulation.
'Steps being taken for protection of journalists’ jobs'
On the other hand, financial conditions of journalists have deteriorated substantially in Peshawar. Information gathered by Peshawar Press Club reveals that 250 journalists out of total 564 full and associate members of the club have lost their jobs due to a so-called financial crisis.
In addition, 100 more working journalists have been facing delay in payment of salaries for many months. Many of these newspapers, which have earned millions, are paying even less than the minimum wages to the journalists, which have been fixed at Rs21,000 by the provincial government.
Mohammad Riaz, the president of Peshawar Press Club, said that some major media houses imposed unilateral pay cut despite record inflation and high cost of living. He said that journalists having master degrees in journalism were being paid Rs8,000 to Rs12,000 salary.
According to official documents some of the newspapers published from Peshawar, Islamabad and Rawalpindi had been paid heavy amount. Daily Aaj simultaneously published from Peshawar and Abbottabad received ads worth over Rs280 million, Daily Mashriq Peshawar over Rs280 million, Daily Express (Peshawar) Rs79 million, Daily Nayee Bat Rs14.5 million, Daily Wahdat Rs36 million and Daily Surkhab, owned by brother of provincial minister for labour, Rs36 million.
Similarly, Daily Nawa-i-Waqt (Peshawar/Rawalpindi) received ads worth Rs28 million, Ausaf Rs22 million, Express Tribune Rs30 million, The Nation Rs16 million, The News International Rs55 million, Dawn Islamabad Rs43 million, Jang Rs23 million and Dunya Islamabad Rs4.9 million.
Mutahidda Majlis-i-Amal MPA Inayatullah Khan told Dawn that employers were pocketing in millions while their employees were striving to make both ends meet. He said the government should link release of ads to media houses with payment of wages to their workers.
All Pakistan Newspaper Society provincial president Pir Haroon Shah disagreed with the figures released by the information department in the assembly. He said that newspaper themselves were facing the worst crisis of the industry’s history.
Provincial Minister Kamran Khan Bangash said that government was taking steps for job protection of journalist and survival of media. In this regard, he said, government released Rs1.5 billion in ads revenue over past three years. “Provincial government wants the journalists to lead respectable lives,” he added.
However, he said no one had complained to them about pay cuts and forced retrenchment in media organisations; otherwise, they would have definitely taken action against the organisations under the law.
Published in Dawn, November 12th, 2021