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ASCI upholds complaint against Republic's TV promo claiming network leadership

Republic had said it was India’s largest news network with a 184 mn reach

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MUMBAI: The Fast Track Complaints Panel (FTCP) of the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI), in a meeting held on 27 March 2019, has upheld a complaint against Republic’s leadership claim of being the country’s largest news network with a reach of 184 million.

The Arnab Goswami-led network’s press note and TV promo with claim of being "India's No. 1 News Network" with "184 Million Viewers" was deemed ‘false and misleading’ by the FTCP after a technical expert and the ASCI secretary general conducted a personal hearing with both the complainant as well as the advertiser representatives.

The FTCP reviewed the channel promo videos, and noted the advertiser’s written response. The details of the complaint and the rationale for claim support was taken into consideration.

“The TV promo was not accompanied with any disclaimer to indicate the source of claim. The TV promo was in contravention of BARC advisory as well as Chapter I.1, I.2, I.4, I.5 and IV. 1 (a) and (b) as well as ASCI guidelines on disclaimers,” read the letter, which has been reviewed by Indiantelevision.com.

Ruling in favour of the complainant, the FTCP said that Republic had selectively picked only a subset of channels of their competitive networks and described these subsets as the “network”. 

It noted, “The comparison among networks should include all channel under the common corporate umbrella. Selectively picking and choosing amounts to transgressing Chapter IV.1 (a) and (b).”

Republic in its defence asserted that it has used the data of only one week, i.e. the 10th week of 2019, for the promotional purpose as it had taken them over five weeks to ensure full availability in their addressable market. 

FTCP further stated that due to the TRAI tariff order implementation, BARC had informed its subscribers to not use the viewership data for any public communication from week 6 onwards. Republic network’s representative admitted to being aware of the said BARC advisory and assured to adhere to the same during their personal hearing.

The channel indicated compliance and confirmed that the TV promo was a one-time telecast and has been discontinued.

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