Lack of proper policy would be that some newspapers, which report activities of the state government in a favourable manner, would enjoy state patronage, the court observed.
The Madras High Court has recently directed the Tamil Nadu Government to frame guidelines/qualifications for releasing government advertisements to the newspapers on the basis of circulation and other criteria without any discrimination.
The court was considering the pleas by newspapers Dinakaran and Tamil Murasu and directed the government to continue to give advertisements to them based on the Audit Bureau of Circulations Certificate and to re-fix the rate for government advertisements for the petitioners' newspapers.
Justice M. Duraiswamy observed that the issue of advertisements amounts to grant of state largesse and there has to be some proper policy to be followed by the state while issuing advertisements.
“The result of lack of proper policy would be that some Newspapers, which report activities of the State Government in a favourable manner, would enjoy State patronage and other Newspapers, which are reporting the news in an impartial and unbiased manner, may not enjoy such State patronage. This would amount to hostile discrimination as against a particular Newspaper. Every action of the State or its instrumentalities neither be suggestive of discrimination nor apparently give an impression of bias, favouritism and nepotism,” the court said.
It also observed that circulation is the major criteria for any advertiser to place their advertisements. “The main object of giving advertisements is to give wide publicity to reach maximum number of readers. No purpose will be achieved if advertisements are given in Newspapers which have very less circulation,” the court said.
Read the Order here.