In a huge setback to Arnab Goswami, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India has come down heavily on distribution platform operators to refrain from placing channels outside their genres. This was after TV18 Broadcast and TV Today Network had accused Goswami’s newly launched Hindi channel, Republic Bharat, of indulging in unethical distribution tactics. According to their complaint, Republic Bharat was placed outside the Hindi news segment in popular genres with an intention to boost the viewership.
The statement by the telecom watchdog said, “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 TRAI said that it had received many complaints alleging transmission of
Television Channels on dual LCN or placement of television channels by the distributors of TV channels, out of the genre declared by the broadcaster.
The directive by the TRAI said, “Every broadcaster shall declare the genre of its channels and such genre shall be either ‘Devotional’ or ‘General Entertainment’ or ‘Infotainment’ or ‘Kids’ or ‘Movies’ or ‘Music’ or ‘News and Current Affairs’ or ‘Sports’ or ‘Miscellaneous’.”
Republic Media Network was also accused of flouting regulations by placing the newly-launched Republic Bharat channel on the landing pages of close to 100 distribution platforms and also placing it outside of the ‘news and current affairs’ genre.
Launched on 2 February, Republic Bharat had announced on 14 February that it recorded a whopping 7.3 crore of weekly audience in the first week of it going on air. Its tweet had read, “#BharatBlockbusterStart | Sensational start for @Republic_Bharat: 6 days – 6 channels overtaken, with an astounding reach of 73 million!”
#BharatBlockbusterStart | Sensational start for @Republic_Bharat: 6 days – 6 channels overtaken, with an astounding reach of 73 million! Tune in to Republic Bharat here – https://t.co/JzxvXuovxA pic.twitter.com/HNAFK1q1MU
— Republic (@republic) February 14, 2019
Experts say that Republic Bharat may pose a huge threat to Aaj Tak, which has enjoyed the market leader’s position for more than 15 years. Aaj Tak is owned by TV Today Network, one of the complainants to the TRAi.
Earlier this week, a Srinagar court had issued a non-bailable warrant against Goswami in a defamation case.
Goswami had launched Republic TV in 2017 with the help of BJP’s Rajya Sabha MP Rajeev Chandrasekhar.