New Delhi: Television company TV18 Broadcast Ltd has written to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) to complain against the incorrect genre categorization of the recently launched channel Republic Bharat. The Hindi news channel owned by Arnab Goswami’s ARG Outlier Asianet News, launched on 2 February, 2019, is being placed outside its declared genre, that is, Hindi news on several cable networks, TV18 says.

“We verily believe that the said channel is being deliberately and mala fide, placed outside its genre at the behest of broadcaster of “Republic Bharat" so as to enable “Republic Bharat" to illegally garner higher BARC ratings and increase viewership," TV18 said in a statement dated 6 February, 2019. Republic Bharat recorded a reach of 73 million in its opening week according to television monitoring agency BARC (Broadcast Audience Research Council).

A Trai spokesperson admitted having received the complaint and said the regulator was examining the issue. Vikas Khanchandani, chief executive officer, Republic Network, declined to comment on the story.

“This so because genres where “Republic Bharat" is being placed either have better viewership and ratings when compared with Hindi news genre or ensure that “Republic Bharat" catches viewers’ attention and gets sampled in non-Hindi news genre. As such, by placing “Republic Bharat" in non-Hindi news genres, an unfair and undue advantage is being given to “Republic Bharat" when compared with competing channels that continue to be listed in correct/Hindi news genre," the statement added. About 100 cable networks across the country including Omnero Media Pvt Ltd, Star Cable Network and Digitel Cable Network in places like Hamirpur (Himachal Pradesh), Aklera (Rajasthan) and Haridwar (Uttarakhand) are allegedly carrying incorrect genre classification of Republic Bharat.

The action, TV18 says, is a violation of Trai’s broadcasting regulations, especially sub-regulations 2 of regulations 18 of The Telecommunication (Broadcasting and Cable) Services and Interconnection (Addressable Systems) Regulations, 2017.

Republic TV, the English counterpart of Republic Bharat was incorporated in May 2017. It has topped the ratings chart since its debut. TV18 Broadcast Ltd. is an Indian entity belonging to the Network 18 Group that owns and operates various channels such as CNBC-TV18, CNBC Awaaz and CNBC-TV18 Prime HD as well as WarnerMedia - CNN-News18.

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