Tuesday, February 14, 2012


Srinagar, Feb 14 (Only Kashmir): A survey sponsored by Union Ministry of Home Affairs in Kashmir has said that 69 valley-based newspapers have either no or little circulation and are ‘supported by dubious funding from secret sources.’
The survey conducted by the Institute for Research in India and International Studies in January 2010 revealed that there were only eight local TV channels which are registered and have a license to beam entertainment programs among total 37 channels working in the valley.
It said the lack of transparency in funding mechanisms of local publications had created a phenomenon of ‘ghost’ or fictitious papers mostly supported by dubious funding.
“These act implicitly and sometimes brazenly…for dubious purposes such as tax evasion by…their patrons,” the survey report- ‘A Perception Survey of Media Impact on the Kashmiri Youth’- said.
The survey provides a long list of newspapers with no circulation and others which only print 100-150 copies “mostly for the benefit of the Information Department” and those whose print-run is only up to 400 to 500 copies. There are 8 English newspapers in the list which have virtually no circulation, while 16 Urdu newspapers have no circulation.
The list provided in the report also includes 45 English and Urdu newspapers which have circulation up to 200 copies and between 200 and 500 copies.
However, the report quickly added that “it’s difficult to make any conclusive statements” in this regard “in absence of research studies on funding patterns and ownership details.”
It said there was a need for both ‘promoting professionalism’ and ‘injecting transparency’ into the local media industry to encourage national media houses to start their local editions in valley.
“Such covert funding or the artificial subsidies for the local papers also explain as to why no national newspapers have ever started any local editions from the Valley,” the report said.
“That is because without a minimum subscription base of about 25,000 copies, such an enterprise is unlikely to become a commercially viable proposition,” it added.
The MHA report also said that no national paper had started a local edition of their papers in the Valley as “there is absence of a level-playing field in the local media industry coupled with all the uncertainties of operating in a conflict situation.”
The report has also included the list of channels working in Kashmir and said only eight local channels in the Valley were registered and have a license to beam entertainment programs. The survey has recorded the names of several other local channels for which the Information Department of J&K Government has no records.
“This shows that perhaps many more un-licensed cable operators had started telecasting news until they were banned in September 2010. It may be noted that there are more than 25 such local channels,” it said.
The report recommended that there needs to be a better interface through certain institutionalized regulatory mechanisms to evolve an effective media strategy to deal with any critical events that can potentially spiral into an agitation.
“Government should try and create a level-playing field for the private players in media, establishing a fair and transparent audit system of newspapers circulation, to allow market forces to come into play and ensure fair distribution of government ads in the local newspapers and, also help remove the ‘secret’ hand of funding of both State and non-State actors,” the report recommended. (Courtesy Greater Kashmir)


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