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S.O.S! Newspapers in critical situation; group seeks Congress’ help for survival

Oct 28, 2021, 6:15 AM
Rose De La Cruz

Rose De La Cruz

Columnist

Stressing that print media is barely surviving, a group is asking Congress to pass a law that would provide tax incentives for newspapers and exempting paper and ink from the value added tax and to include news and public affairs as part of the school curriculum.

FACED with various challenges, the print media industry (broadsheets and tabloids) is seeking Congress’ help in the form of tax breaks, reduced income tax payments and other modes of assistance.

The United Print Media Group, headed by Barbie Atienza, told the House of Representatives Committee on Creative Industry and Performing Arts during a recent inquiry of the challenges the print media are facing.

Among them are natural calamities, pandemic, threats and the emergence of the digital industry.

Those were aside from the ever-increasing cost of ink, paper and other raw materials, plus high taxes.

He added that the print media industry is already in a critical situation and badly needs government assistance.

UPMG has over 32 member-publications, which have played a significant role in shaping the country.

“It is alive, enduring and striving to become better,” the UPMG said in a statement.
“It is time that the government aid the industry. With proper tax assistance, and a partnership with the education sector, print media shall once again soar to great heights. We believe that the print media still has a lot to offer,” the group, which was founded in 2001.

The position paper focused on three appeals: lowering of income tax; exemption of certain industry-related transactions from the value-added tax (VAT), and a government-mandated inclusion of news and current affairs as a separate subject in the academic curriculum.

These changes, the UPMG said, could be done either through inserting amendments in the pending Creative Industries Bill or by coming up with a bill specifically crafted for the print media industry.

The UPMG asked lawmakers to further lower the corporate income tax (CIT) for the print media industry to 15 percent, months after the CIT across all industries had been reduced to 25 percent under the CREATE law, or the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises Act passed in March 2021.Cre

“A lower income tax would allow print media publishers to better invest not just in equipment but also in people, elevating the quality of print media and journalism in general" he said.

A lower income tax for the industry is long overdue, it is time for the government to do its part for print media,” the position paper read.

It has also asked Congress to exempt certain transactions from the 12-percent value-added tax (VAT), particularly their purchases of paper and ink, as well as the advertisements paid by companies and the government.

In doing so, the government would be able to help the print media industry lower its production costs and attract more advertisements.

“While paper and ink drive the cost of printing, advertising services are one of the main sources of income for print media publishers. We believe that being able to address both the cost aspect and revenue aspect of print media publication will allow the industry to not just survive but even thrive in today’s fast-changing world,” they said.

On top of this, the group also wants to institutionalize its partnership with the Department of Education and the Commission on Higher Education by allotting a subject in school solely for news and current affairs.

This, the group said, was different from the status quo, wherein current events were integrated with other subjects like Araling Panlipunan.

“Being informed of the latest news will allow (the students) to participate better in discussions concerning the nation while teaching them the value of reading and journalism in general. We therefore propose a separate subject for news and current affairs in the primary, secondary, and tertiary education,” the group said.

Atienza also called on both houses of Congress to pass legislation to provide VAT exemption for purchases of paper and ink with prices going up which he said leads to the decline in purchase of paper.

Atienza said decreased publications will lead to less access and awareness of current events, the proliferation of fake news, decline in professional and responsible journalism, and less interest in reading and writing.

Tags: #UPMG, #broadsheetsandtabloids, #newsandpublicaffairs, #tax


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