Following complaints from broadcasters, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has directed distribution platform operators (DPOs) to refrain from placing channels outside their genres.
The order came on a complaint filed by TV18 Broadcast and TV Today Network against Arnab Goswami’s recently launched Hindi news channel Republic Bharat. The two broadcasters said Republic Bharat has been placed outside the Hindi news segment in popular genres in order to jack up viewership numbers.
In its directive, TRAI said it received many complaints regarding alleged transmission of television channels on dual LCN or their placement by distributors outside the genres declared by broadcasters.
The statement reads, “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. 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 directive says every broadcaster should declare the genre of its channels under categories such as ‘Devotional’, ‘General Entertainment’, ‘Infotainment’, ‘Kids’, ‘Movies’, ‘Music’, ‘News and Current Affairs’, ‘Sports’ or ‘Miscellaneous’.
The distributor have to place the channels in the electronic programme guide in such a way that channels of the same genre as declared by the broadcasters are placed together consecutively. One channel shall appear at one place only, TRAI said.
Also, television channels of same language within the same genre should appear together consecutively in the electronic guide. However, the authority permits distributors to place a channel under a sub-genre within the genre as declared by the broadcaster.
The statement says distributors should assign a unique channel number for each television channel available on their network. The channel number allotted to a particular television channel should not be altered for at least one year from the date of the assignment.