Airtel has denied that it is selling viewership data collected from its Android connected boxes in its reply to the show-cause notice sent by the Information & Broadcasting Ministry over the release of Return Path Data (RPD).
The I&B Ministry had sent a letter to Airtel quoting BestMediaInfo’s news article “Airtel rolls out RPD with India TV as its first client; channel claims No. 1 position”.
In its reply, Airtel began stating that the news article was highly misconceived and unfounded. “It does not set out the factual position correctly and seems to be based on an incorrect understanding of facts.
However, BestMediaInfo.com vouches for the accuracy of the news article.
“It is false and denied that Airtel is purportedly selling viewership data collected from its Android connected boxes i.e., Airtel Xstream subscribers and/or Airtel has acted in violation of Article 10 of license condition. The allegations in the news article as well as the letter under reply are factually incorrect and unfounded. We also firmly deny that Airtel has commercially exploited any data in violation of policy guidelines for television rating agencies in India or offered any value-added services without a specific license,” the pay DTH company said.
Airtel further stated that it is not providing any rating or/and ranking to any broadcaster through this data. “The data that is provided is merely an insight of the user behaviour derived on the basis of certain aggregated data of Airtel Xstream households. By no stretch of argument, does this fall within the ambit of ‘rating’ as contemplated under the guidelines. Accordingly, any apprehension that Airtel is selling ratings to the broadcasters is thus baseless and incorrect,” it said.
BestMediaInfo.com’s news article was based on digital and print advertisements by news channels claiming top rankings quoting the Airtel RPD. However, Airtel conveniently left out this in its reply to the Ministry, as it makes it clear that Airtel was selling television ratings. As an industry practice, the ads by news channels would have been approved by the DTH platform before they were released.
Defending its case, Airtel said that the data is specifically restricted data in respect of limited numbers of customers that too of its own android connected boxes.
Data is not drawn from the pool of households selected through an establishment survey and is not reflective of the demographic of TV households in the country nor it’s so claimed, the company said.
The DTH major said that the data is Airtel’s own proprietary data, well within regulatory norms and is for the benefit of the industry at large and consistent with other practices in the industry.