The allocation for ‘information’ under the I&B ministry has gone up to Rs 212.51 crore in the last two years — a rise of more than 1,800 per cent from 2016-17.

New Delhi: With crucial state and general elections coming up in the next 16 months, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s NDA government seems to have prepared itself well for a massive public outreach programme and advertising campaign. At least as far as the funding is concerned.

The Union Budget document for 2018-19 shows the allocation for the information component under the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has gone up to Rs 212.51 crore in the last two years — a rise of more than 1,800 per cent from the Rs 11.05 crore allocated in FY 2016-17.

A major part of the information component is “development communication and information dissemination”. This is an umbrella programme focusing on communication through the Directorate of Advertising and Visual Publicity (DAVP), media outreach programmes by the Press Information Bureau, special outreach programmes on flagship government schemes by the Department of Field Publicity (DFP), live arts and culture by the Song and Drama Division of the ministry, and a social media platform for information dissemination and perception management for the central government.

This information component also comprises a media infrastructure development programme, including schemes for revamping DAVP and modernisation of PIB, as well as a human resource development programme.

Sources in the ministry confirmed that the lion’s share of the allocation is for the DAVP — the body responsible for giving out government advertisements across media. Even the DFP has bagged an increased budget, as it has started engaging private agencies to publicise the government’s flagship schemes in interior villages of the country, also referred to as “media dark spots”.

The total budgetary allocation for the I&B ministry, however, has gone up to Rs 4,088.98 crore  — an increase of only 13 per cent. Of this, Rs 2,820.56 crore is set to go to public broadcaster Prasar Bharati. The grants-in-aid to Prasar Bharati has also increased by Rs 40 crore — from a revised estimate of Rs 220 crore last year to Rs 260 crore this year.

Another interesting feature of the I&B ministry budget is an allocation of Rs 18.10 crore for strengthening its Electronic Media Monitoring Centre — a body responsible for monitoring TV channels for programme and advertising code violations — up from last year’s revised budgetary estimate of Rs 10 crore. Rs 4 crore has been allocated for promoting community radio in the country.

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