TRAI issues direction to DPOs following complaints by TV18, TV Today against Republic Bharat

MUMBAI: The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has issued a direction to distribution platform operators (DPOs) asking them to refrain from placing channels outside their genres. The authority has also said that action will be taken against such distributors who fail to comply with the regulations.

The direction has been issued following complaints by TV18 Broadcast and TV Today Network against Arnab Goswami’s Hindi news channel Republic Bharat. The two broadcasters had written to the TRAI that Republic Bharat is being placed outside the Hindi news genre in popular genres to garner higher viewership.

The regulator had also sought responses from cable TV platforms who had placed Republic Bharat in non-Hindi news genres.

The authority stated that it has received many complaints alleging transmission of television channels on dual LCN or placement of television channels by the distributors of TV channels, out of the genre declared by the broadcaster.

“Now, therefore, the Authority, in exercise of the powers conferred upon it under section 13, read with clause (b) of sub-section (I) of section 11, of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India Act, 1997 (24 of 1997) and in order to protect the interest of service providers and consumers and ensure orderly growth of the sector, hereby directs all distributors of the television channels to ensure that the television channels of same genre, as declared by the broadcasters, are placed together consecutively and one channel shall appear at one place only failing which action shall be taken against such distributors, under the provisions of TRAI Act, 1997,” the TRAI has said in its direction.

The TRAI regulations mandates every broadcaster to declare the genre of its channels and such genre shall be either ‘Devotional’ or ‘General Entertainment’ or ‘Infotainment’ or ‘Kids’ or ‘Movies’ or ‘Music’ or ‘News and Current Affairs’ or ‘Sports’ or ‘Miscellaneous’.

It is also mandatory for the distributor to place channels in the electronic programme guide, in such a way that the television channels of same genre, as declared by the broadcasters, are placed together consecutively and one channel shall appear at one place only.

The regulation also stated that all television channels of same language within the same genre shall appear together consecutively in the electronic programme guide. However, it is permissible for the distributor to place a channel under sub-genre within the genre declared for the channel by the broadcaster.

Furthermore, every distributor of television channels shall assign a unique channel number for each television channel available on the distribution network. The channel number once assigned to a particular television channel shall not be altered by the distributor for a period of at least one year from the date of such assignment.