Indian food regulator’s Rs 1000 crore media blitzkrieg to improve ‘food safety’ !!!

The meek justification being offered for this disproportionate funding for publicity is that people have to be made aware about various provisions of the Food Safety Act, 2006.

It appears India’s food regulator has got all its priorities horribly wrong. The regulatory body plans to spend a whopping sum of over Rs1,000 crore just on publicity during the 12th plan period.

The amount the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has sought from the government for publicity related activities is much more than what it plans to spend on its core activities – developing food safety standards, setting up testing labs, surveillance and so on.

Out of Rs6,548 crore for various projects and initiatives planned during the 12th plan period, as much as Rs1,019 has been earmarked just for publicity.

The meek justification being offered for this disproportionate funding for publicity is that people have to be made aware about various provisions of the Food Safety Act, 2006. While detailed rollout schedule and clear deliverables have been shown for various activities, the authority remains vague when it comes to its gigantic media spending plan.

All that the proposal says is ‘awareness generation/ IEC programme would be as per well-thought-out media plan to be undertaken regularly using all forms/formats of publicity having wide reach’.

The Rs1,000 crore media blitzkrieg is expected to result in ‘overall general awareness about food safety rules/ regulations and sensitisation of various stakeholders about food safety issues’.  Rs350 crore under the so-called media plan will be spent for undertaking a ‘comprehensive campaign utilising audio and video and print media for dissemination of messages’. An amount of Rs319 crore has been proposed for publicity utilising ‘non-media vehicles’ such as multi-coloured pamphlets on food safety, hygiene, prevention of food spoilage, use of potable water in cooking etc. Such material will be distributed to schools, vendors and will be displayed at bus and railway stations. Another Rs350 crore would be disbursed to states at the rate of Rs2 crore for every state every year for publicity in local language. (courtesy: Dinesh C. Sharma & MailOnlineIndia)

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Power and Fear: Indian Corporate’s new media mantra

Gopinath Menon, CEO, Melon Media, Crayons Communications Group writes in his guest column ” New custodians of democracy emerge” in exchange4media.com on possible danger of corporate sector taking over the news industry:

Media houses of the past have slowly changed character and the traits now are very different. Earlier the  purpose was skewed towards a social objective, the freedom struggle, the voice of the down trodden, etc. This has given way to purely commercial and practical objectives. The social outlook of media houses has given way to the green dollars for the last two decades or so.

…..It is not the green dollars here as most media companies are bleeding and will take years before they break even. So what is the reason? The answer lies in the simple question “If you cannot be rich, can you be powerful and feared?”

With RIL investments in Network 18 and The Aditya Birla Group in TV Today, we are seeing a start of a new breed of corporate captains emerging in the fourth estate business. The significant fact to note is that all business investments have come in the news space and not in the entertainment space. So it is clear that it is not fondness for the media space but the news space that generates power and fear. This might change the media character of the written, spoken and seen words forever.

Why do we watch or read news? To be informed and enlightened. It helps us posses a viewpoint that builds our stature and standing within our peer group or society at large. The building block for this is ‘Credibility’ and ‘Truth’. I truly believe that there are no in-betweens when it comes to these traits. So you blindly rely on the information to develop a stance. What happens when this basic input is biased and misleading or planted? Everything collapses and it is tough to believe that their values will be embraced with the same intensity as before. If the same intensity prevails, its fine but is it going to be easy for a top business leader by origin to allow a huge chunk of business loss so that he comes across as principled? It is tough and maybe impractical to let it go and hence, the concern for the fourth estate.

Times have changed. We are on the threshold of a new society being weaved by the captains of industry controlling truth and credibility in the fourth estate. 

Read the full column : ” New custodians of democracy emerge”