The Association of Indian Magazines (AIM) has written to Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman requesting a bailout package for the struggling magazine sector. Citing the increasingly challenging times confronting the Print media during the COVID-19 lockdown, R Rajmohan, President, Association of Indian Magazines (AIM), has said in the letter, “The Magazine Industry has been going through hard times. The advertising revenues have declined as advertisers face the pressure to reduce marketing spends, due to the prevailing macro-economic conditions. Coupled with this, is the rising input costs, resulting in low or no profitability for magazine publishers.”
He further adds that the ongoing lockdown and the widespread outbreak of COVID-19 has thrown the Print industry out of gear. “Though classified as 'essential services’, distribution of magazines has been severely hampered during lockdown. Most magazines are printed in one city and transported to others states through the railways network and it is the postal and local courier services that we rely on for delivery of subscription copies. Both are currently not happening. Due to the economic impact of COVID-19, businesses have deferred their advertising spends, depriving magazines of their major revenues. This has forced magazine publishers, across country, to take drastic steps like slashing the number of pages and skipping issues. However, given the severity of the problem, these measures will not suffice and survival of magazines will be difficult unless government steps in with a bail-out package.”
The letter makes the following pleas to the Finance Minister on behalf of the association:
- Remove the remaining 5% Customs Duty on newsprint. (Before the Union Budget 2019-20, there was no Customs Duty on Newsprint.)
- Withdraw the GST on Newsprint or at least make the GST on LWC (paper used by magazines) on par with SNP/ GNP (used by newspapers) at 5%. As per PRB Act, both newspapers and magazines come under the definition of ‘Newspapers’. (Prior to the introduction of GST, LWC upto 70 gsm had no duties or taxes, whatsoever, for end users.)
- Tax holiday for two years.
- Allocate 10% of the BOC (DAVP) budgets to Magazines.
- Soft loans for two years at 5% interest, with a moratorium for 6 months.
- Bring down the GST on Digital Content Writing to 5% from the existing 18%. (Content writing is our core business and to supplement income, magazine publishers have entered into Digital Content Writing).
- Reduce GST on Events, conducted by magazine publishers, to 5%. (Our Events are extension of our Content and we have created them to engage with our readers further.)