TRAI to withdraw landing page direction as consultation process begins

MUMBAI: The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has told the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) that it will withdraw the 8 November 2017 direction on landing page within two weeks.

The regulator made the submission during a hearing of the matter in the tribunal on 18 April.

It is pertinent to note that the TRAI is looking at the landing page matter in totality and has issued a consultation paper on the matter to seek the views of the stakeholders.

The authority had directed broadcasters and distributors of TV channels to restrain from placing any registered satellite television channel, whose TV rating is released by TV rating agency, on the landing LCN or landing channel or boot up screen.

The direction was challenged by Bennet Coleman and Company Ltd (BCCL), All India Digital Cable Federation, DEN Networks, Fastway Transmission and Satellite Channels before the TDSAT. The petitioners had challenged the direction on the ground that the TRAI had not followed transparency in issuing the direction.

With the direction being challenged on the ground of transparency, the authority initiated a consultation process following a go-ahead from the tribunal.

The tribunal had directed the authority of put the direction on hold till further orders.

In industry parlance, the landing channel or the landing page refers to the Logical Channel Number (LCN) which is displayed first when the set top box (STB) is switched on.

As per the practice, this channel is available for display on all the STBs connected to the network of a distributor. Such channels may be available to all customers irrespective of the choice and whether it is pay or free to air (FTA) channel.

Stakeholders can provide written comments on the consultation paper 20 April and counter-comments by 27 April.

The authority had noted that presently there is a regulatory framework to guide placement of TV channel in distributors’ network but there is no regulation stipulating criteria to place a channel on the landing page.

Therefore, landing page LCN may be used for placing a television channel to show enhanced reach compared to other channels placed in other LCNs, therefore, the competing broadcaster may see it as a discriminatory practice.

TRAI had noted that it had earlier received complaints regarding running of channels on multiple LCNs in different genres simultaneously.

Issues for consultation:

1.       Do you feel that emerging concept of placing TV channel on landing page can influence TRP ratings? Suggest the action which may address the issue with justification.

2.       Should the concept of landing page be defined? If so, please suggest the definition of the landing page with justification.

3.       Will defining Framework for placing TV channels on landing page affect the present business model of distributors? If so, will it be considered impacting the freedom to do business by distributors of TV channels? Give your suggestions with justification.

4.       Is landing page a natural choice of consumer while viewing TV channels? If not, why should channels, whose TV ratings are released by TV rating agency, be placed on landing page? Give your comments with justifications.

5.       Whether placing of a TV channel on landing page increases television ratings? If yes, why TV Channels, whose TV ratings are released by TV rating agency, should not be barred from being placed on landing page? If no, why broadcasters are eager to place their channels on landing page? Give your suggestions with justification.

6.       What should be the criteria/consideration to put a TV channel on landing page? Give your suggestion with justification.

7.       Do you think the influence, if any, in television ratings by placing of TV channels on landing page can be mitigated through changes in measurement methodology of television ratings? Give your suggestions with justifications?

8.       Please comment on the feasibility to implement user’s ‘last visited page’ as landing page in distributors’ network?

9.       Should the landing page be used to place TV channels not having TRP rating or only to provide platform specific information? Give suggestions with justification.

10.   Any other suggestions/comments related to the issue under consideration?

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