Arnab Goswami’s newly launched Hindi news channel Republic Bharat has been accused of resorting to unethical practices to garner high viewership numbers over competing broadcast networks.
BestMediaInfo.com has learned that TV18 Broadcast Limited, which operates national Hindi news channel News18 India, has written to TRAI complaining about ‘Republic Bharat’ being placed outside the Hindi news genre. It asked for stern action against all those who may be/have been involved in listing of ‘Republic Bharat’ outside its genre so as to stop such malpractice in future. Similar complaint has been filed by TV Today Network that runs Aaj Tak.
Acting on the complaints, TRAI has sent emails to cable operators that said:
1. Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) is in receipt of a complaint from M/s TV Today Network, on the subject mentioned above, wherein M/s TV Today Network has mentioned that you have placed ‘Republic Bharat’ on landing page and other LCNs on your network w.e.f 1st Feb 2019.
2. You are requested to send your comments on the above mentioned issue, to this office latest by 22nd Feb 2019.
A complaint filed by TV18 Broadcast, a copy of which is with BestMediaInfo.com, said, “A wrong and widespread practice is being adopted whereby Republic Bharat is being placed outside its declared genre i.e., Hindi news genre on various cable networks.”
The complaint included sample photographs and a table showing listing of ‘Republic Bharat’ outside its genre at various cable networks.
“We verily believe that the said channel is being, deliberately and malafide, placed outside its genre at the behest of the broadcaster of ‘Republic Bharat’ so as to enable it to illegally garner higher BARC ratings and increase viewership,” the letter said.
“This so because, genres where ‘Republic Bharat’ is being placed either have much better viewership and ratings when compared with Hindi news genre or ensure that ‘Republic Bharat’ catches viewer’s attention and gets sampled in non-Hindi news genre. As such, by placing ‘Republic Bharat’ in non-Hindi news genres, an unfair and undue advantage is being given to ‘Republic Bharat’ when compared with its competing channels that continue to be listed in/correct Hindi news genre,” it added.
The letter dated February 6, 2019, stated that this action of placing ‘Republic Bharat’ outside the relevant genre is in violation of the authority's broadcasting regulations (Specially, sub-regulations 2 of regulation 18 of The Telecommunication (Broadcasting and Cable) Services Interconnection (Addressable Systems) Regulations, 2017) and as such, impermissible.
“In view of above, we humbly request Hon’ble Authority to kindly take cognisance of this complaint and investigate into the matter. Further, in terms of applicable laws, take stern action against all those who may be/have been involved in listing of ‘Republic Bharat’ outside its genre so as to deprecate such malpractice in future,” TV18 concluded.