MIB directs BARC to stop measuring landing page channels

MUMBAI: The ministry of information and broadcasting (MIB) has directed Broadcasters Audience Research Council (BARC) India to discontinue the adoption of landing channels for the purpose of TV ratings.

The ministry has asked the council to send a compliance report. It also stated that non-compliance will be a violation of ‘Policy Guidelines for Television Rating Agencies in India’.

In a letter to BARC, the ministry stated that the landing channel should always be without watermark to avoid misuse.

The decision came after a few broadcasters complained to the MIB about the alleged misuse of the landing page by certain channels to increase their viewership.

The ministry also drew the attention of BARC towards Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s (TRAI) direction dated 8 November to all broadcasters and distribution platforms to refrain from placing any registered satellite television channel on the landing LCN or landing channel or boot up screen within fifteen days from the date of issuance of this direction.

The ministry also noted that the landing page could be used by some channels to increase their viewership. This, it said, is discriminatory and does not provide level playing field.

It also pointed that this will also lead to an unholy nexus between broadcasters, operators, and agencies as higher ratings will fetch higher ad revenue.

“We have received a letter today from Ministry, and are examining the contents. On measuring channels who place themselves on landing page, we have communicated our position to Ministry earlier. The related TRAI order also directs broadcasters and distributors to comply by not indulging in this activity. We will continue to act in the best interests of industry, within Ministry’s regulatory framework,” BARC said in a statement.

The letter comes in the wake of TRAI’s consultation paper on issues related to placing of television channel on the landing page.

The TRAI said that the consultation paper has been issued with the aim to protect the interest of the consumers, to ensure fair growth of the sector, and to ensure unbiased TRP ratings raises various issues related to placement of television channels on landing page while providing an opportunity to all the stakeholders to deliberate on the issues and to provide comments/suggestions thereof.

The consultation paper was issued as the TRAI direction was challenged by Bennett Coleman and Company Ltd (BCCL), All India Digital Cable Federation, DEN Networks, Fastway Transmission and Satellite Channels before the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT).

The petitioners had challenged the direction on the ground that the TRAI had not followed transparency in issuing the direction. The TDSAT had restrained TRAI from giving effect to the direction till further order.

As the primary ground of the said dispute was transparency, the authority conveyed its decision to reconsider the issue to TDSAT which was agreed to.

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