Pradhan tells PSUs to advertise in Orissa papers

Vol 18, PW 1 (28 Aug 14) People & Policy

Narendra Modi wants to project a clean image for his government but some of his ministers aren’t exactly sending out the right signals.

Take oil minister Dharmendra Pradhan. PETROWATCH learns Pradhan has directed state-owned oil companies to spend more of their press advertising budgets on publications in Orissa - his home state.

Pradhan’s office, we hear, has given a list of 164 preferred newspapers and magazines to ONGC, Oil India, IndianOil, Hindustan Petroleum and Bharat Petroleum, who together control an annual advertising budget of over Rs100cr ($16.5m). Among the list - seen by this report - are a staggering 137 titles in the Oriya language of Orissa.

Nineteen are in English, seven in Hindi and one in Urdu. “A day before Indian independence day (August 15) we were called and asked to rearrange our media list to give advertisements to most of the Orissa newspapers,” we hear.

“This is the first time we’ve faced such ministry interference.” On August 15, the five largest Oriya language newspapers (Dharitri, Orissa Sambad, Pragativadi, Samaya, and The Samaja) carried half-page advertisements to celebrate ONGC’s 59th foundation day featuring colour photos of PM Modi and oil minister Pradhan.

“ONGC is a national oil company,” complains a source. “How can we justify advertising mainly in local newspapers in a particular state? People will ask why we don’t advertise in Punjabi, Telugu or Kerala newspapers?”