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Landing page row: Will BARC committee’s report find a way out?

Will BARC India’s two-man committee formed to address the landing page issue find a way out of the imbroglio that has plagued the broadcast industry? That is a question that every broadcaster is asking. 

It’s now close to a month since the two-man committee was formed, comprising BARC India Chairman Nakul Chopra and Pravin Tripathi, who has been part of the outlier policy from the outset, to independently review the data authentication process as well as suggest ways to smoothly streamline the process. So far, there is no communication on when the committee will be ready to submit its first report. 

Also read: Row over outlier policy: Has BARC formed its two-man committee in haste? 

In the meantime, the industry continues to be in a state of unrest ever since TDSAT had quashed TRAI’s 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. 

Also read: Broadcasters slam landing page ruling, see it changing TV ratings dynamics 

Following TDSAT’s May 31, 2019 ruling on landing page, BARC had included unfiltered outlier’s data from landing page for its ratings data for Week 22. However, the ratings body reverted to its earlier practice of filtering out landing page data from Week 23 onwards, following representations received from various stakeholders. 

But this move has not been enough for broadcasters, who have called the landing page a menace and added that it manipulated 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. 

In fact, 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. 

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

It is now learnt that Network18 has also written to the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting (MIB) regarding BARC’s data validation process as well as outlier policy and voiced its concerns.

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