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General News TRAI issues fresh direction against placement of TV channels on landing page
MUMBAI: The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has directed all broadcasters and distributors of TV channel to refrain from placing any registered TV channel whose rating is being measured on the landing page or the bootup screen with immediate effect.

The authority said that the direction has to be implemented in all cases by 31 March 2019. However, in the case of previously entered agreements, efforts may be made to implement these directions as soon as possible.

It also stated that the information of such pre-existing agreements with full details of the parties to the agreement, the territory, agreement period and other relevant details may be submitted to the authority within seven days from the date of issuance of this direction.

TRAI said that the decision has been taken in exercise of the powers conferred upon it under section 13, read with sub-clause (ii) of clause (b) of sub-section (I) of section 11, of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India Act, 1997 (24 of 1997).

The direction, the authority said, will protect the interest of service providers and consumers and ensure orderly growth of the sector.

It is pertinent to note that the authority had issued a direction dated the 8th November 2017 wherein all the broadcasters and distributors of television channels were directed to restrain from placing any registered satellite television channel, whose TV rating is released by TV rating agency, on the landing Logical Channel Number (LCN) or landing channel or boot up screen.

This direction was challenged before the Telecom Disputes Settlement & Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) which stayed the implementation of the direction. Subsequently, the authority repealed the aforementioned direction with immediate effect, after obtaining the permission of the tribunal.

The authority issued a consultation paper on “Issues related to Placing of Television Channel on Landing Page” on the 3rd April, 20 18 seeking comments /suggestions of all the stakeholders. It received 25 comments and 2 counter-comments from the stakeholders, It had also conducted an open house discussion (OHD) with the stakeholders in May.

Based on the submission from the stakeholders as well as the analysis of the data obtained from distributors and Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC), the authority came to the conclusion that placing of a channel on landing page influences Television ratings.

According to TRAI, the placement of channels on the landing LCN provides a distinct advantage to such channel in the measured viewing sessions. It added that this placement also jeopardises the accuracy and credibility of the TV rating system.

On the issue of the possibility of changes in measurement methodology of television ratings to mitigate the influence of landing LCN on Television ratings, the authority was informed by BARC that the same is not feasible due to technical limitations.

They informed that the audience measurement cannot distinguish between a watermarked channel placed on landing LCN or anywhere else on the distribution platform’s LCN.

The authority also analysed the feasibility of implementing other alternatives to mitigate the effects of placement of rated TV channel on landing LCN, such as putting a restriction on the landing LCN settings, modifying configuration in the middleware to put landing page as a last visited page and mandating distributor to place only consumer-related information on landing LCN.

However, the authority observed that these alternatives are either not feasible due to technical limitations in various types of distributor’s networks or impact their commercial interests.

Airtel Digital HD Recorder / Kerala Vision Digital TV
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