All You Need to Know About the Ad Policy for Print, Electronic, and Digital Media

The cabinet approved the new “Advertisement Policy for Print, Electronic, Digital Media & Cinema, 2021” of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. The policy covers multiple media platforms and provides detailed directions on the preparation, awarding, and payment of government advertisements.

This new policy aims to tackle several such issues and beyond. “The aim of this all-encompassing policy is to ensure transparency in the process of awarding advertisements to media platforms and ensuring timely payment of advertisement-related dues as well,” reads the policy draft.

The Planning Commission will earmark at least 2.5 percent of the total budget outlay of any PSDP project for running effective media advertising campaign to create awareness about the Federal government’s policies, projects, and initiatives aimed at the socio-economic welfare of its people, said the draft policy document.


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Selection of Media Platforms for Advertisements

Furthermore, the policy entails that only those newspapers, TV channels, FM Radios, Cinema, and Digital media platforms will be entitled to Federal Government advertisements that are approved by the Oversight Implementation Committee (OIC).

They will also have to adhere to Article 19 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan as well as the code of ethics approved by the Supreme Court of Pakistan (SCP).

Publicity campaigns/advertisements, which may include a combination of various mediums, will ensure that the messages have maximum impact and reach.

Oversight & Implementation Committee (OIC)

An apex body to be named as “Oversight & Implementation Committee (OIC)” will consider all aspects of government advertising and communications, which includes but is not limited to all forms of publicity, i.e., campaigning, advocacy, marketing, promotion, and event management.

The OIC will have the authority to approve or reject any publicity campaign/advertisement which lacks objectivity, is inconsistent with the policies of the government, or violates any law of the land.

Advertising Agencies

Press Information Department (PID) shall be authorized to appoint Advertising Agency as per prescribed guidelines. However, if such agencies are appointed on an ad-hoc basis, the appointment will only be up to a maximum of six (6) months.

A detailed criterion of selection of agencies has also been outlined. The initial invitation to advertising agencies by department/organization will be for the presentation of concepts and copies, sketches, preliminary designs, storyboards, and scripts. Based on this, a short listing of agencies will be done and the shortlisted agencies will be invited for a final presentation based on actual artwork, finished products where agreed, and audio and video spots also were agreed.

The period of appointment of the finally selected agency/agencies shall preferably be for two years. However, this shall not be extendable beyond two years except with the approval of PID, which may allow such extension or a maximum period of six months only.


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Determination of Advertisement Rates

The Committee comprising of Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Secretary Information, and Broadcasting and Principal Information Officer of Press Information Department (PID) will meet biannually to determine rates for the release of advertisement/commercials.

Regarding print media rules, the policy states that advertisements cannot be demanded by any newspaper/periodical as a matter of right. PID shall be authorized to select newspapers/periodicals, both national and regional, on behalf of the Federal Government Bodies/Sponsoring Agencies keeping the provision of the budget, target audience for maximum impact.

Efforts would be made to release advertisements in all regions and languages for maximum impact.

For Foreign Advertisement, Federal Government Bodies/Sponsoring Agencies shall, after obtaining NOC from External Publicity Wing, route it through the Press Information Department.

For digital platforms, the policy states that news websites or portals will have to guarantee minimum viewership on their sponsored articles within 48 hours of posting. In case the minimum viewership is not met, they will have to post additional articles till the minimum viewership guaranteed is reached to ensure payment.

The advertisements will be given on the calculated share/ performance matrix given below:

Sr No Website Monitoring Parameters Percentages (%)
01 Ranking as per Google Analytics 30%
02 Ranking as per Alexa or any other established online ranking platform 20%
03 Per day average website traffic for last one year 20 %
04 Significance to Public Interest 20 %
05 Accessibility of the website (UI Design, Mobile compatibility ) 10 %


Digital Advertisements

In the last two decades, Pakistan has seen extraordinary growth in usage of the internet, resulting in a remarkable increase in digital/online advertisements in Pakistan.

Keeping in view the rising trend, following mechanism for release of public sector advertisements on digital media in accordance with Rules of Business, 1973 have been proposed, which shall be applicable on all Government Ministries/Departments/Divisions/Autonomous or Semi-Autonomous bodies for placement of their advertisements on News Websites:

  1. All ads and sponsored articles are to be released by Press Information Department (PID) through enlisted Digital Advertisement Agencies.
  2. For all display/video digital advertisement campaigns, an open competition shall be called for the selection of advertisement agencies.
  3. PID will maintain and update the list of news websites or portals or any other media platforms and release the advertisement in category-wise allocations based on daily visitors.
  4. Five percent quota for regional websites (only in Regional Languages or duly supported formats) to be specified.
  5. The distribution of advertisement will further be based on audience and regional specification/reach of the News websites or portals.
  6. News websites or portals will have to guarantee minimum viewership on their sponsored articles within 48 hours of posting, and in case the minimum viewership is not met, they will have to post additional articles till the minimum viewership guaranteed is reached to ensure payment.


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Other Salient Features of the Policy

  • PID will release advertisement/TV/Radio, cinema commercials, and digital platforms only to those media outlets which are on the Combined/Central Media List (CML) of the Ministry Information and Broadcasting.
  • Once a newspaper, TV/ Radio channel, cinema, or digital platform is removed from the combined media list for any reason, its case for re-enlistment in the combined media list shall be considered as a fresh case.
  • In case the Federal Government Body/Sponsoring Agency does not have any advertising agency on its panel, it may directly route the advertisement through the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting for release.
  • To ensure transparency in the release of government advertisements, PID will publish the data relating to the release of government advertisements on PID websites for public record and transparency.
  • The Federal Government Bodies/Sponsoring Agencies will have to clear payments against the release of their advertisements within 45 days.
  • Any release of advertisements/commercials by any department/division/autonomous body directly to print/electronic media, digital media, and cinema without routing through the Press Information Department (PID) shall constitute a violation of this policy for which the relevant Secretary/PAO will be held accountable as per law.
  • Advertising agencies shall be selected through an open and transparent competition after meaningful and effective consultation with Press Information Department (PID).
  • All public sector departments and organizations will take immediate steps to hold a required competition for the selection and appointment of advertising agencies.

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