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TRAI assures TDSAT on withdrawal of landing page order

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NEW DELHI: Broadcast carriage regulator Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) assured the sector disputes tribunal yesterday during a hearing that a November 2017 order pertaining to landing or boot-up page of TV sets will be withdrawn within two weeks and the issue discussed with the stakeholders before any further move on the matter.

An order of the TRAI in November 2017 banning the use of the landing page for any other activity other than promotion of a distribution platform had been challenged by a few MSOs and broadcasters on the ground that proper process wasn’t followed by the regulator before issuing the directive.

The TRAI diktat, incidentally, had come after a clutch of news broadcasters had made allegations against a fellow TV channel of making use of the boot-up page to manipulate audience ratings and sampling of the product by viewers.

The TRAI also informed the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) that it had issued a consultation paper on 3 April 2018 to debate and discuss the landing-page issue threadbare with various stakeholders.

The landing or the bootup page is what a viewer sees first when a TV set and the connected set-top box are switched on. This page on the screen remains for a certain period of time after which the EPG or the electronic programming guide of the distribution service provider comes up. The landing page, considered hot real estate, usually carries paid advertisements of a TV channel programme or messages (like audience measurement data relating to a particular TV channel or even initial sampling of a new channel). The commercial use of the landing page results in sizable revenue for distribution platforms.

After the TRAI’s submission on the issue on Wednesday, the TDSAT noted that once the regulator withdrew its order, all the petitions would be treated as infructuous. Till then, the tribunal interim order staying the TRAI directive remains in force. The next date of hearing is 7 May 2018.

While passing the directive in November, the TRAI had said it had received a number of representations from stakeholders stating the practice of placing a registered TV channel—whose audience data was recently released—on the landing page had the potential to influence the TV audience measurements.

The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, in a separate order, in the first week of April 2018 had directed audience measurement organisation BARC India to desist from using landing page data of any channel for its overall audience data.

Also Read :

TRAI initiates consultation on landing page issue

MIB directs BARC to stop landing page impressions for measurements

TDSAT 'reserves' order on landing-page case

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