Television

Republic TV, TRAI, NBA and the case of multiple LCNs

MUMBAI: The media went to town about Arnab Goswami’s Republic TV getting carriage in multiple genres (dual or multiple LCNs) on select cable TV networks across India. This followed reports that the News Broadcasters Association (NBA) had complained to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) about this so-called violation by cable TV MSOs of the quality of services regulations which were notified in early March 2017.

TRAI, on its part, then sent out notices to the MSOs asking them to toe the regulatory line which states that “…each channel shall be listed under the respective genre of the channel as declared by the broadcaster under applicable tariff order or regulations …and one channel shall appear at one place only.”

And, by end-16 May, many MSOs following pressure from the regulator gradually started pulling out the channel from other genres and placed it in one genre only – that of, news. However, sources indicate that Republic was not the only channel which resorted to seeding multiple feeds in different genres on cable TV networks.

“For a long time, channels have been doing this -- whether it is Times Now or CNN News18 or CNBC News18 or Headlines Today – almost every news channel has opted for this, and even GECs,” says a distribution professional. “It is a shrewd marketing ploy which has helped viewers find a channel easier as well as got a spike in viewership as multiple LCN placement tends to fox BARC India’s measurement. In fact, even this time, two of the popular English news channels did the same though no one has mentioned them, but with TRAI cracking down, even they have dropped the multiple channel feeds.”

A source close to Republic TV questioned the NBA’s decision to write to the TRAI without approaching the channel’s management.

“The thing is the existing clique of news channels is getting nervous about Republic’s spectacular launch and recall in the viewers’ minds. The ratings are expected soon and, for sure, there are going to be a few upsets,” says he. “Hence, they banded together against the debutant.”

Indiantelevision.com reached out to BARC CEO Partho Dasgupta, and the official comment from the viewership ratings agency was that it would go ahead with the release of its data as usual. “BARC India measures viewership of TV channels on the basis of their unique Watermark ID, irrespective of the platform that the channel is available on, and number of instances, within that platform. For channels with the same WM ID, which may be available on more than one slot/LCN, the viewership reported is a combined one for all in BARC India weekly data," BARC India stated.

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