It was Stabroek News that stopped Gov’t ads – DPI
The Department of Public Information (DPI) on Monday sought to debunk claims made by the Stabroek News that the Government’s information arm has cut advertisements to the news outlet. The DPI in a statement said the article printed by the Stabroek News on Sunday is “wholly erroneous, misleading and mischievous.”
The Stabroek News claimed that based on an analysis of the ads placed in the four daily newspapers over the last six months, there has been a sharp decline in the number of state ads placed per column inches in Stabroek News as of June 2019.
The DPI however stated that it placed $51,780,354 in advertisements in the Stabroek News from January 1 to September 19, 2019. This is 29 percent of the $177,114,612 in newspaper advertisements payments to the four daily newspapers for the same period, the entity said in a statement.
“For 2019, Stabroek News received $8,027,192 more than Guyana Chronicle in payments,” the DPI said. The Guyana Chronicle is the state-owned newspaper.
The DPI did not stop there but further stated that SN has been receiving more ads under the coalition Government which was elected to office in 2015.
“Under the Coalition Government GINA/DPI advertising payments to Stabroek News moved from $8million in 2015 to a whopping $57.3million in 2018,” the government’s information arm said.
The DPI said Stabroek News was on course to an even higher figure for 2019 but alleged that the newspaper imposed a blockade starting June 1, 2019.
“It was the newspaper which refused to take government advertising,” the entity said.
DPI said on May 22, 2019 Stabroek News wrote to DPI advising that as of June 1, 2019 it will “cease all ad placements”
As a result the Government agency said it informed all government advertisers of Stabroek News’ position.
The Stabroek News in its Sunday article had stated that on May 22nd, 2019, Guyana Publications Inc (GPI) which publishes the newspaper had written DPI about a large outstanding debt for state ads and advised that no new placements would be accepted until there was a substantial settlement of the amount outstanding.
DPI admitted owing $22,118,485 but said the account at the time “was not unusual and other newspapers have routinely had larger outstanding amounts.”
“No newspaper has ever imposed a blockade on government advertising as a result,” the statement added, noting that the action taken by Stabroek News was “unnecessary, arrogant, unilateral, punitive and high-handed.”
The state entity argued that it is only the booking agent for Ministries and the newspaper ads are paid for when the agency receives such monies from the Ministries.
Following the reversal of the blockade, the DPI said ads to SN decreased since by this time the Ministries have already found “other avenues of reaching the public,” which included digital media and radio advertising.
Further as part of the process triggered by Stabroek News’ blockade, DPI has said it has reviewed the placement of newspaper advertising and has been advising ministries that advertisements would be placed in two newspapers – Guyana Chronicle (as the state owned newspaper) and on a rotational basis with one of the other newspapers along with television, radio and digital media.
“There is a diversification of government advertising to include all media, not just newspapers. This system has commenced and as the newspaper with the widest daily circulation Kaieteur News has received the bulk of the rotation thus far,” the agency said.
DPI said given the evolving nature of media and the rapid expansion of access to information by the public on digital media platforms, it is incumbent on all advertisers, including government, to adjust and modify the manner in which advertising is placed (i) for maximum benefit and (ii) to ensure that all media share in the government advertising pie.
It also viewed the Stabroek News article as a heightening of the newspaper’s campaign against the government.