JPR Channel joins BCCL, AIDCF in challenging TRAI direction on landing page in TDSAT

MUMBAI: Multi system operator (MSO) JPR Channel has joined All India Digital Cable Federation (AIDCF) and Bennett Coleman and Company Ltd (BCCL) in challenging the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s (TRAI) direction on landing page.

The TRAI had on 3rd December 2018 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 boot-up screen with immediate effect.

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

It had 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.

BCCL and AIDCF were the first ones to challenge the direction in TDSAT. BCCL had filed the appeal on 14th December 2018 while AIDCF had done so on 18th December 2018.

The contention of the parties is that the TRAI cannot regulate the landing page. The MSOs are worried that the direction will have an impact on their revenue.

The TDSAT has listed the three matters for hearing on 12th March.

The TRAI counsel submitted on instructions that the regulator will be adopting its reply in similar matter BA No. 4 of 2018. “Since that Appeal along with some other related matters is to be listed on 12.3.2019, let this appeal be also listed on the same date,” the tribunal said in an order after hearing JPR Channel’s appeal.

It also asked TRAI to provide a copy of the reply in the other appeal to JPR following which the latter will be at liberty to file rejoinder within 10 days.

This is the second time the authority has issued a direction asking broadcasters and distribution platform operators (DPOs) not to place channels on the landing page. The authority’s first direction dated the 8th November 2017 was challenged in TDSAT which had stayed its implementation till further orders.

Subsequently, the authority repealed the direction with immediate effect and issued a consultation paper on “Issues related to Placing of Television Channel on Landing Page” on the 3rd April, 2018 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. The consultation process culminated in TRAI issuing a direction on 3rd December 2018.

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