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Landing page row: Regional broadcasters draw parallels with net neutrality controversy

The controversy surrounding the landing page issue refuses to subside, with regional broadcasters now writing to BARC India, this time on the industry body’s decision that it would not attempt to pursue action against removal from landing page impact from the data. 

The broadcasters have called the landing page a menace and that it will manipulate the data, creating unfair advantage for channels using artificial means to improve their numbers and thereby scuttling creativity and efforts in creating good quality content for the viewers. 

They insisted that landing page adversely impacts broadcasters who make huge investments in production values and good content. 

A leading regional broadcaster even said that unchecked landing page would be an action replay of the Net Neutrality controversy, where Facebook faced flak for its ‘Free Basics Programme’ that skewed the right of way in Internet access. 

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While reiterating that landing page marginalises good content and vitiates competition, the broadcaster stressed that this needs to be curbed and instead called for industry self-regulation. 

Some of the measures suggested by the broadcasters to curb the menace of landing page include: 

  • Allow only promotions to be run on the landing page with the BARC watermark 
  • BARC needs to find a technical solution to remove the landing channel from its measurement 
  • Till the time such a technical solution is found, BARC should manually correct the viewership data to remove the outliers 
  • Desist individuals, distribution companies and broadcasters from using landing page for their own channels

Meanwhile, as reported earlier, BARC has formulated a two-member team comprising former BARC India Chairman Nakul Chopra and Pravin Tripathi to independently review the data authentication process as well as suggest ways to smoothly streamline the process. However, some in the industry feel that the committee has been hastily created and wonder how impartial their findings would be considered by the broadcast industry since both the members are also part of BARC’s executive committee. 

Amid all this controversy, no one has yet approached the TDSAT seeking a resolution. The whole row erupted after the TDSAT ruling that quashed the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s (TRAI) directive dated November 8, 2017 that put a restraint on all broadcasters and distributors of TV channels from placing any registered TV channel, whose TV ratings is released by a TV rating agency, on the landing Logical Channel Number (LCN) or landing channel or Boot-up Screen. Following TDSAT’s ruling, BARC India had said that it would now also include the ratings of channels placed on landing page in its weekly ratings data. 


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