Discussion on BARC India suspending ratings for 2 months is ‘premature’: Industry experts

However, industry veterans emphasised on the need for creating public awareness on the TRAI order for its better implication

BARClogo

Amidst speculations of BARC (Broadcast Audience Research Council) not releasing ratings for two months in the backdrop of TRAI rating order, industry sources told exchange4media a concrete decision on this is expected in a meeting of stakeholders later this month.

Senior industry sources also confirmed that there were "premature" discussions around it during meetings held few weeks ago. However, nothing concrete has been decided as of now. "It was discussed as one of the possible options to deal with the scenario as most of us are trying to find ways to tackle the issue," said a senior industry source.

Industry veterans however emphasized on the need for creating public awareness on the TRAI order for its better implication.

A senior executive said, “The meeting was scheduled to take place tomorrow. However the meeting has been rescheduled because many board members were not available. Only in that meeting we will come to know whether it's going to happen or not. Also there is no mention of this in any agenda. As of now this is only word of mouth.”

Another senior industry expert said, “The suggestion has some logic because when there will be disruption of this magnitude nobody should be in a position to take advantage showing ratings in this phase.” Going by the information the meeting will happen in next 15 days.

This kind of a blackout has happened twice - in 2012 when the government had asked for the mandatory switch from analogue to digital cable and second time in 2015 when the industry moved from TAM to BARC.

As per our sources, there is a lot of uncertainty on the implementation of the Tariff order post January 1, 2018, due to the pending petitions in court and DTH/cable operators expecting to get a stay order; there is a higher probability that the implantation date of this order will be pushed ahead further.

The order

Early this year, Star had approached the Apex court questioning TRAI’s jurisdiction to frame tariff order on the grounds that the authority has no jurisdiction on content as that actually comes under Copyright Act and not TRAI Act.

The appeal was filed against the fractured judgement passed by a two-judge Bench of Madras High Court comprising Chief Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice M Sundar. The bench had given a split verdict. Justice M Sundar had ruled in favour of Star. Commenting on the judgement delivered by Justice M Sundar, the Supreme Court order stated, “I am unable to agree with the conclusion of M. Sundar, J. that the provisions of the impugned Regulation and the impugned Tariff Order are not in conformity with the TRAI Act. In my view the impugned provisions neither touch upon the content of programmes of broadcasters, nor liable to be struck down.”

“However, the clause putting cap of 15% to the discount on the MRP of a bouquet is arbitrary. The said provision is, in my view, not enforceable. In my considered view, the challenge to the impugned Regulation and the impugned Tariff Order fail,” the order read further.

The 2017 Regulations prevented the mixing of pay channels and free to air channels in a single bouquet.  The Regulations restricted placing high definition format and ordinary format of the same channel in the same bouquet.  Another restriction was that a bouquet of pay channels should not contain any pay channel where the Maximum Retail Price is more than Rs 19.
 

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