Television

ARG Outlier Media writes to TRAI, accuses News18 India of flouting landing page directive

It began as a landing page on Hathway Digital.

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MUMBAI: ARG Outlier Media Asianet News, which owns channels like Republic TV, Republic Bharat among others, has accused TV18 Broadcast Ltd of flouting Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s (TRAI) 3 December 2018 directive to broadcasters and distribution platform operators (DPO).

A letter, reviewed by Indiantelevision.com, written by ARG Outlier Media earlier this month states that ‘TV18 Broadcast started its channel News18 India as a landing page on Hathway Digital’, exhorting the regulator to take action against the violator.

In December last year, TRAI had directed all distributors of TV channels and broadcasters to restrain, with immediate effect, from placing registered television channels, whose TV rating is released by ratings agency, on the landing page or the boot-up screen.

The reason behind this order, according to TRAI, was to protect the interest of service providers and consumers while ensuring “orderly growth of the sector”.

Though the TRAI diktat came into effect immediately, the sector regulator allowed some breather to stakeholders to become fully compliant by 31 March 2019 by making necessary changes in agreements that may have been already signed. However, distributors and TV channels had been asked to report to the regulator with updates within seven days.

Last month, TV18 Broadcast had written to TRAI about Republic Bharat being placed outside the Hindi news genre to drive up viewership.

“The action of placing ‘Republic Bharat’ of ARG Outlier Media outside its relevant genre is also a violation of authority’s broadcasting regulation as framed by the Authority (specially, sub-regulations 2 of regulation 18 of the Telecommunication (Broadcasting and cable) Services Interconnection (Addressable Systems) Regulations, 2017) and as such, impermissible,” TV18 said, requesting TRAI to investigate the matter and take appropriate action against all those violating the regulations.

TV18 said that the channel was being placed in other genres to allow it to “illegally garner higher BARC ratings and increase viewership”. 

“As such, by placing Republic Bharat in non-Hindi news genres, an unfair and undue advantage is being given to ‘Republic Bharat’ when compared with its competing channels that continue to be listed in correct / Hindi news genre,” TV18 said in its complaint to the TRAI.

It is believed that competing Hindi news channels like Aaj Tak and India TV were the other complainants.

“In view of above, we humbly request Authority to kindly take cognisance of this complaint and investigate into the matter rather, in terms of applicable laws, take stem action against all those who may be / have been involved in listing of Republic Bharat outside its genre so as to deprecate such malpractices in future,” TV18 had stated.

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