TDSAT sets aside TRAI’s directions on landing page, but is the row over?

Industry experts say it’s business as usual since nothing has changed after the judgment

e4m by Moumita Bhattacharjee
Published: Jun 5, 2019 9:07 AM  | 4 min read

Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) took a landmark decision to set aside Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s (TRAI) directions on landing page, making it legal for television channels to place their ads on the landing page. TDSAT also mentioned that the regulator doesn’t have the powers under the TRAI Act to issue such a direction. The regulatory body had asked the broadcasters and distributors of TV channels not to place any registered TV channel ad, whose rating is being measured, on the landing page. The authority contended that it influences TV ratings.

The judgement was passed on May 29, 2019, in the Bennett Coleman & Co. Ltd. vs. Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Broadcasting Appeal No. 2 of 2018) case. This obviously is good news for broadcasters because the viewership on landing page gets added to the overall ratings while DPOs can now monetise the way they want it. 
While a leading broadcaster told us that nothing has changed after the judgement, BARC India feels it needs to be compliant with the TDSAT ruling.

“As of now, there is no change on the ground. Going ahead, it is possible, that the broadcasters who are not happy, will go to the Supreme Court. They are contemplating that. It is very unlikely that the court will entertain any plea. That’s because it’s a TRAI thing so they will leave it to them. So it’s business as usual,” said the broadcaster on the condition of anonymity. 

“The thought is that it is giving an added advantage (to the channel) simply because you are available on two places. First, when you switch on the channel. If anybody got a landing page deal, the channel gets switched on. Then you have a placement deal with a particular EPG in the respective genre. The landing page deal is obviously on the higher side. It is almost twice of what you pay for placements. So it is lucrative as far as the DPOs are concerned and for broadcasters as it gives a go-ahead in terms of marketing, as it is a default channel. But at the same time, there is no push from the broadcaster or DPO to watch that particular channel. Consumers can move on to other channels, there is no need to be on it for a particular time,” said the broadcaster.

A BARC India spokesperson reiterated the same saying, “The placement of a channel on the landing page improves the opportunity to view for the channel i.e there is higher probability of it being sampled by a larger audience. However, viewership is a factor of number of people who viewed it and the time spent viewing it. For the viewership to be impacted, the viewer would have to spend a certain amount of time on the landing page channel for him to be counted as a viewer. This is entirely the viewer’s discretion.” 

The spokesperson further added, “Having said that, we feel the question of fairness of the tool, and its influence on viewership has to be seen in the context of the TDSAT ruling, and all the repercussions of that decision. We will need to be compliant with TDSAT ruling, which effectively allows DPOs to run landing page activity unless someone further challenges the ruling.”
Mohit Joshi MD - India, Havas Media Group, adds here that it is definitely a breather for DPOs. “The monetization of the LCN becomes an additional source of income. It is too early to comment whether there would be an increase in the rates, but DPOs could look at ways of maximizing eyeballs by working together with broadcasters. I am sure, the judgement by TDSAT would have been a considered one and would have taken into account the perspectives of all stakeholders involved – broadcasters, distributors as well as consumers, represented by the TRAI.”

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