KARACHI (PR) - The newspaper industry is facing acute financial crunch and requires a bailout package by the federal government for its survival as it cannot afford any financial burden, stated a press release of the APNS.

APNS Secretary General Masood Hamid released the decisions of the meeting of the executive committee, chaired by its president, Sarmad Ali, held in Faisalabad. The APNS secretary general said participants from the four provinces expressed grave concern over the deteriorating financial condition of the newspaper industry due to economic slowdown in the country, resulting in a drastic downfall in the advertising revenue of the newspapers released by the public and private sectors. The financial crunch has been further exacerbated by nonpayment of bills of member publications by the federal and provincial governments for about four years, he said.

The APNS executive committee urged the federal government to bail out the industry by expediting the long outstanding payments and withdrawal of Centralised Media Policy. The members noted that the crippled newspaper industry could not afford any financial burden as threatened by Federal Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira.

The executive committee strongly criticised the advertisement policy of the federal government by its recent decision to revive the Centralised Media Policy, 1964, a byproduct of the black law, Press and Publications Ordinance (PPO), 1963, enacted by the dictatorial regime of Ayub Khan. The members reiterated that the federal government should withdraw the Centralised Media Policy as it would be a disaster for smaller and medium-sized newspapers.

The executive committee members were apprised by the secretary general that despite various assurances and commitments, the Sindh government had not paid the dues of member publications up to December 2012 worth Rs 400 million. It expressed its dismay over the conduct of the Sindh Information Department and authorised the secretary general to take appropriate measures, including suspension of the Sindh government advertisements, for the recovery of the outstanding dues.

APNS members from Faisalabad who were also present at the meeting briefed the executive committee on the problems faced by their publications. They stated the PID was not issuing due and just quantum of ads to Faisalabad publications, which was the 4th important centre of the newspaper industry. The Faisalabad-based publications said the Punjab DGPR had, after a long time, restored the provincial government advertisements to Faisalabad publications, but the quantum was not equitable. The executive committee approved the report of the secretary general on the progress and development in holding the South Asia Media Summit in Islamabad on February 20-21, 2013, and unanimously elected Sarmad Ali, as chairman of the first summit.

The participants of the meeting visited the University of Agriculture Faisalabad. On this occasion, the vice chancellor briefed the members on the achievements and performance of the first biggest agriculture university in the region. The executive committee members also visited the Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The FCCI president briefed the APNS on the acute energy crisis faced by the Faisalabad industry. They urged the media to highlight the problems of power load-shading and closure of CNG to the industry which has badly affected the economy of the country. The members also visited All Pakistan Textile Processing Mills Association and were briefed on the problems faced by the textile industry.

The Faisalabad Editors Council also hosted a dinner in the honour of the members and termed holding of the executive committee meeting in Faisalabad after two decades an acknowledgment of the importance of the 4th major centre of the newspaper industry. The executive committee appreciated the hospitality extended to its members and flawless arrangements made for the meeting by SM Munir Jilani and Humayun Tariq.

The meeting was attended by Sarmad Ali, president, Masood Hamid, secretary general, Javed Mehr Shamsi, finance secretary, Mumtaz A Tahir (Daily Aftab), Waseem Ahmed (Awam, Quetta), Dr Jabbar Khattak (Awami Awaz), Rahmat Ali Raazi (Weekly Azm), Syed Faseih Iqbal (Balochistan Times), Jamil Akhtar (Business Recorder), Humayun Tariq (Business Report), Mukhtar Aqil (Jurat, Karachi), Main Akbar Ali (Khabrain) Syed Ayaz Badshah (Mashriq, Peshawar), Bilal Mahmood (Nawa-i-Waqt), Sardar Khan Niazi (Naya Rukh), Syed Muhammad Munir Jilani (Paigham), Umer Mujib Shami (Pakistan, Lahore), Baber Nizami (Pakistan Today), Ilyas Shakir (Qaumi Akhbar), Khushnood Ali Khan (Sahafat), Jamil Ather (Tijarat, Lahore), Haroon Shah (Wahdat) and Younus Riaz (Beopar).

Aniq-ur-Rahman Saifi (Saadat), Asghar Ali Tabasum (Naya Ujala) and Muhammad Aslam (Yarn) attended the meeting as special observers.