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News broadcasters complain that Republic TV is violating ethics rule: report

The National Broadcasters Association, a union of large news channels, has accused Arnab Goswami’s Republic TV of violating an ethics rule, per a Mint report. Republic, the NBA wrote in a letter to TRAI, is listing itself across multiple genres in cable distributors’ programme guides. This means that users who subscribe to those cable distributors will see Republic more often than other channels, which the NBA argues is a violation of TRAI’s interconnection guidelines.

“Republic TV is licensed as an English news channel but for reasons best known has been registered by several multi-system operators/distribution platform operators/distributors multiple times under different genres in their EPG (electronic programme guide) by listing it on multiple logical channel numbers (LCN). We have been informed of several infractions,” Mint quoted the letter as saying.

Den Networks Ltd, Hathway Cable and Datacom Ltd were named in the letter. TRAI’s rules are not explicit when it comes to one channel categorizing itself under multiple genres (and therefore having multiple channel numbers).

Rahul Kanwal, managing editor of India Today TV’s parent network, invited viewers to report similar dual genre manipulation by his channel, daring other channels to follow suit. In 2015, Chrome Data Analytics estimated that India Today TV was  practicing this so-called dual frequency broadcasting on seventy cable operators, the highest of any channel at that time.

A new set of interconnection rules, which the regulator had announced in March, were stayed by the Supreme Court this month. Among other things, the new rules capped the price of interconnection for different genres. “Once the new regulation comes out, this [Republic] issue will be taken care of,” a media executive told Mint. The new interconnection rules were stayed by TRAI after a months-long legal battle by Star India and its Tamil subsidiary Vijay Television.

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I cover the digital content ecosystem and telecom for MediaNama.

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