TV Today network had filed a writ petition in the Delhi High Court against the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) and the newly launched Republic TV, claiming that Republic TV is made available in multiple frequencies.
Senior Advocate Sandeep Sethi, appearing for the ratings agency BARC, submitted that even if a channel is available on more than one frequency, it would not affect the calculation of the ratings.
Senior Advocate Ramji Srinivasan (briefed by Phoenix Legal), seconded the submissions made on behalf of BARC, and also added that there were complaints against the petitioner itself for indulging in the same malpractice.
Appearing for TV Today Network, Senior Advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi stated that Republic TV was available in multiple genres in the programme guide, thereby unfairly increasing its viewership.
He further submitted that BARC, although being a private body, was discharging public functions and therefore must act in a manner befitting a public body. Singhvi went on to say that such malpractice amounts to defrauding the public, the advertisers and other entities which are associated with the media world.
Upon hearing the arguments, Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva inquired whether the respondent channel was still available on multiple frequencies. The respondents answered in the negative.
Singhvi then submitted that if the malpractice was no longer existent then he would not press for the reliefs prayed for in the petition, provided that the respondents state this on record.
After the taking the statements of the respondents on record, the petition was dismissed as withdrawn without the Court going into the contentions of either the petitioners or respondents.
Earlier, the National Broadcaster’s Association had also stated that Republic TV has been registered by various cable distribution platforms multiple times under different genres, enabling the channel to appear more than once in their electronic program guide (EPG). This is a violation of TRAI regulations, they said.
Last week, BARC had released the ratings of various English news channels, showing Republic TV’s viewership to be far greater than other channels. The NBA had asked BARC to withhold the ratings of Republic TV until the channel stopped the alleged malpractices. However, after BARC went ahead with the release, English channels affiliated to NBA pulled out of the council.