TDSAT dismisses petition against BARC on landing page issue differing from Delhi HC view

The petition has been dismissed on the ground of lack of jurisdiction

KOLKATA: The Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) has dismissed the petition against TV audience measurement body BARC India on the ground of lack of jurisdiction. Bennett Coleman and Sun TV Network approached the tribunal on the legality, validity of a recent decision taken by BARC on the landing page issue.

The petitioners claimed that BARC India had acted arbitrarily by adopting a formula which according to petitioners reduce the viewership data collected by measurement tools of BARC India. On September 3, the latter announced the introduction of algorithms into its data validation method to mitigate the impact of the landing page on viewership data across all genres of channels.

While the tribunal gave out the final judgement on 4 November, it stated that it found out after both the parties that the main task was to find out whether BARC is a licensor of any ( specified) public telecommunication/broadcasting services; and (ii) whether it is providing a service that is made available to the public as users.

Notably, the petitioners also approached Delhi High Court earlier. TDSAT has differed from the Delhi High Court’s opinion that BARC is a licensee or a service provider under the TRAI Act. “It is noted that in para 34 of its order dared 29.09.2020, the Hon’ble High court clarified that the finding that TDRSAT would have jurisdiction to entertain the petition was a prima facie one and in Para 45 it was further made clear that none of the observation shall bind TDSAT which shall hear the petition filed by the petitioners and any interim application filed therein without being influenced by any of the observations made in the order. Hence, the issue of jurisdiction has been raised afresh and parties have been heard in detail,” TDSAT noted.

TDSAT also stated that since it has been found that BARC is neither a licensee nor a service provider as defined under the TRAI Act, the petitions under consideration are found to be beyond the jurisdiction of its Tribunal. Hence, the petitions have been dismissed on the ground of lack of jurisdiction.

However, the petitioners would be at liberty to pursue their grievances in accordance with law before any court of competent jurisdiction.

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