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After TDSAT intervention, TRAI issues consultation paper on landing page issue

The authority has invited written comments on the consultation paper from the stakeholders by April 20 and counter-comments by April 27

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has released a consultation paper on issues related to placing of television channels on the landing page.

The authority had issued a direction dated November 8, 2017, wherein all the broadcasters and distributors of television channels were directed to restrain from placing any registered satellite television channel (whose TV rating was measured by BARC India) on the landing LCN or landing channel or boot up screen.

The said direction was challenged by some stakeholders in the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT). As per interim orders, the direction is not operative. As the primary ground of the said dispute was transparency, the authority conveyed its decision to re-consider the issue to TDSAT, which was agreed.

Written comments on the consultation paper are invited from the stakeholders by April 20, 2018, and counter-comments by April 27, 2018. This consultation paper aims to protect the interest of the consumers, to ensure fair growth of the sector, and to ensure unbiased TRP ratings. On the same note, it raises issues related to placement of television channels on the landing page while providing an opportunity to all stakeholders to deliberate on the issues and to provide comments or suggestions. The consultation paper is accessible on TRAI’s website.

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.

TRAI has received large number of complaints inter-alia alleging that some distributors, in collusion with broadcasters, are placing certain channels on the landing page to influence television ratings. It is argued that channel available on the landing page is not normal choice of customer. Therefore, such channels may not be allowed for influencing TRP ratings.

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