TRAI warns action against MSOs that place a TV channel in multiple genres

MUMBAI: Following the slugfest between English news channels on one side and Arnab Goswami’s Republic TV on the other over the issue of dual logical channel numbers (LCNs), the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has warned multi-system operators (MSOs) that it would take action if the regulation on this was violated.

Terming the placing of TV channels on multiple LCNs by MSOs as ‘material non-compliance’, TRAI has advised all MSOs to comply with regulations.

The authority has advised all MSOs to strictly comply with the extant regulatory framework in letter as well as in spirit, failing which action shall be taken against such operators as envisaged in terms of the provisions of TRAI Act, 1997.

According to TRAI, the regulation mandates that MSOs place a channel in the genre declared by the broadcaster of that channel.

MSOs are required to ensure that all the channels falling in a particular genre appear in their networks’ EPG under that genre.

With this, the subscriber would be able to see the list of channels that are available genre-wise. This would make the services more consumer friendly, TRAI said.

The regulator noted that several MSOs providing cable TV services are placing some channels at more than one LCN under multiple genres simultaneously.

The authority views this practice as a material non-compliance of the extant regulatory framework prescribed by it. Therefore, it has advised all MSOs to strictly comply with the regulation.

As per the regulation, every broadcaster is required to declare the genre of its channel. The recognized genres are ‘News and Current Affairs’, ‘Infotainment’, ‘Sports’, ‘Kids’, ‘Music’, ‘Lifestyle’, ‘Movies’, ‘Religious or Devotional’, ‘General Entertainment (Hindi)’, ‘General Entertainment (English)’ and ‘General Entertainment (regional language)’.

The issue of dual LCNs has become a slugfest between the News Broadcasters Association (NBA) on one side and Arnab Goswami’s Republic TV on the other.

The NBA alleged that Republic TV became No. 1 in the very first week of its launch due to its availability on multiple LCNs. Goswami hit back saying that the use of multiple LCNs was a common marketing tactic previously used by many news channels.

The NBA had complained to TRAI to take action against Republic TV and MSOs indulging in the same. TRAI is conducting inquiry into all complaints regarding dual LCNs.

NBA members Times Now, NDTV 24×7, CNN-News18 and India Today TV had pulled out BARC India after the latter refused to pay to its plea of holding back Republic TV’s ratings until the issue of dual LCN was resolved. The channels subsequently returned to BARC.

On its part, BARC distanced itself from the controversy contending that the matter should be resolved among the industry players. It also stated that for channels having the same watermark on more than one LCN, viewership gets aggregated and reported as a single channel and not multiple channels.

The matter even reached the Delhi High Court, with TV Today Network filing a petition against Republic TV. The petition was dismissed as withdrawn after Republic TV made a statement that it is classified in news genre.

You may be interested