25 Sep 2009

Calender with Magazine, a part of magazine?

Subscribers to various magazines would often have come across various booklets/pamphlets distributed along with the magazines/periodicals. In fact with some of these periodicals, certain supplements are a regular feature. These periodicals, at the time of postage, avail concessional rates of stamp-suffixation. A peculiar dispute came up before the Delhi High Court in this regard. 

Reader's Digest, a popular periodical in India, was "informed that the booklet containing the advertisement of Toyota Motor Corporation in the form of a calendar, inserted in the Reader’s Digest issue of December 2005 was neither a supplement nor part and parcel of the publication and therefore, the request for mailing of that issue on concessional rates cannot be acceded to" by the Post Master. The Post Master also noted that “the said booklet has been bound and printed separately and merely stapled to the Reader’s Digest" and did not conform to the prescribed  conditions to avail the concession. Challenging this, writ petition was filed in the Delhi High Court

Defending the action of the Post Master, Additional Solicitor General Mr. P.P. Malhotra argued that the "advertisement was in the form of calendar which could be pulled out and used separately. It was really not a supplement to the magazine itself. If the advertisement was separated one could still read the magazine. It was contended that the booklet also was violative of Rule 30 of the Rules as no paper or thing could be enclosed in or with a registered newspaper other than an extra supplement in terms of Section 9 of the Act. The quality and size of the paper was different from the main magazine. If the calendar had been transmitted separately through the Post Office network, the sender would have been paid a minimum of Rs.4/- per article. However, respondent was seeking the concessional rate applicable to registered newspapers and this resulted in the appellant being denied its revenue."

Senior Counsel Mr. Rajiv Nayyar, on behalf of Reader's Digest argued that even "if the advertisement pages were pulled out it did not detract from the value of the magazine and only amounted to the advertisement concerned not being distributed." Also, those pages on which the advertisement was carried out were printed on both sides and properly numbered. "The taking out of“such pages may result in enquiries being made from the petitioner as to what was contained on those pages, which the readers would find to be missing".

On the aforesaid, with other interesting observations on the nature of advertisements and the requirements in regard to they being treated as a part of the magazine, on the facts of the case the Court concluded that the Toyata advertisement was indeed a part of the magazine, observing as under;
18. This Court finds that the advertisement in question forms part of the December 2005 issue of Reader’s Digest and the pages of the advertisement have been expressly included in the total number of pages of the said issue. The first and last page of the advertisement is in sequence with the overall pagination of the issue. The name of the magazine and issue month is printed in a prominent position both in the first and last page of the magazine. Further to remove any doubts the readers have been informed in page 1 of the issue that the issue includes the Toyota advertisement which is at pages 55 to 82 of the magazine.

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