In a big development, the News Broadcasters Association has sensationally alleged that the controversial TV anchor Arnab Goswami’s Republic TV had resorted to unethical distribution tactics to secure higher viewership numbers.
According to a report by website, Best Media Info, the NBA has written to the government watchdog, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, alleging that Goswami’s channel was running multiple feeds on various multi system operators’ platforms.
Never in the past has the NBA singled out a channel for alleged trade-related malpractices.
The NBA is believed to have alleged that Republic was listed at several locations in different genres in what’s known as the electronic programme guide (EPG) of various MSOs and other distributors on multiple frequencies.
The NBA has also reportedly termed the Republic TV’s action as illegal and asked the TRAI to take action to ensure no other channels in future indulge in similar practices.
Republic TV’s dual and, in some case, triple feed was spotted in 171 cities across India with maximum push being in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand.
A Republic TV source told the website, “Times Now has been doing this for years, and so have other channels. As we speak, they are running dual feeds on many major distribution networks, including Hathway, Indian Cable Net Company Limited (ICNCL), SCOD and a few others.”
According to TRAI notification of 2017, it’s incumbent for distributors to place channels under the same genre.
It had said, “It shall be mandatory for the distributor to place channels in the EPG, in such a way that the television channels of the same genre are placed together consecutively and one channel appears at only one place.”
Times Network sources said that they were expecting to ‘Arnab Goswami to indulge in unethical means.’
In a mail circulated to all its employees a week and a half ago, Times Network had warned its staff to be vigilant of any possible malpractices by the Republic TV and report them immediately.
Goswami’s channel has run into many controversies since its launch on 6 May. Goswami was widely condemned for publicly insulting a Congress spokesperson after he called one of the channel’s anchors ‘a BJP journalist.’
Goswami had called Brijesh Kalappa ‘worm’ and a ‘lapdog’ of the Gandhi family.
A day later, a Samajwadi Party spokesperson had asked Goswami on LIVE TV asking if the channel had taken money from the BJP.
Republic TV is funded by the NDA MP, Rajeev Chandrasekhar, and known BJP supporter and for Infosys executive, Mohandas Pai.
In the run-up to its launch the channel had launched massive campaign against the Congress vice president, Rahul Gandhi, and Delhi chief minister, Arvind Kejriwal. Goswami had come under considerable social media ridicule for not raising any questions against either Prime Minister Narendra Modi or his party, the BJP.