Mumbai: News Broadcaster Times Network has issued a statement to inform and educate the public and viewers on the widely practised and perfectly legal usage of Landing Pages, reiterating that landing pages are a perfectly clean marketing tool permitted by the law in India and very commonly used across the world by broadcasters and advertisers to market themselves to viewers.
Times Network also accused that desperate attempts are being made by certain broadcasters accused in the BARC TRP Scam to shift the narrative and focus from the manipulation of TRPs to raising unnecessary and illogical issues with the sole objective of distracting from the real fraud. It also stated that it is deplorable that the broadcaster, inter-alia, accused in the TRP Scam, is attempting to create a wrong impression on the usage of Landing Pages as part of the TRP Manipulation matter which is now under investigation by the Mumbai Police.
While batting for the bonafide usage of “Landing Page” (LP) Times Network has clarified that Landing Page simply refers to being present on the frequency that viewers see as the first channel when they switch on their set-top box attached to their TV set. The landing page is a standard feature of all digital set-top boxes and is the top advertising space to showcase Channels to maximum viewers. Placement for better visibility is a basic marketing strategy used by all product categories and is the right of every business. It is the same when FMCG Companies acquire top Shelf Space in supermarkets for higher visibility. Our advertisers place ads on the front page of newspapers at a high cost for the highest visibility.
The Broadcaster articulated that use of landing pages is absolutely legal and an authorised activity citing that the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) jurisdiction to rule in the usage of landing pages in December 2018 was challenged by Times Network and set aside by TDSAT (Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal). The matter is now before the Honourable Supreme Court, wherein while staying TDSAT’s Order, the Court has directed TRAI not to enforce its Direction against broadcasters during the pendency of the matter. It also accused that a large part of the infamous WhatsApp chats between the former BARC CEO and others discuss using influence to block the use of Landing Pages by regulators and thereby remove a valid but expensive hurdle in the scramble for higher rank for the said channel for lucrative purpose.
It is also pertinent to note that a Landing Page Filtration Algorithm was officially announced by BARC on Sept 03, 2020, and Times Network has challenged this in Bombay High Court and the matter is sub judice as on date. The 44-week Forensic audit is for the period May 2017 to March 2018 when no such Filtration policy was in place and BARC had no mandate to remove Bonafide reach from landing pages. Any explanation that the tampered numbers during the 44-week period of the Forensic Audit were done to remove landing page impact, therefore, is spurious.
The outlier policy or moderation policy is a mechanism provided by BARC Technical Committee to remove Statistically significant anomalies, mainly abnormal TSV from unlikely homes or spikes in data that don’t represent the logical true picture. The Outlier Policy is the key provision that has been allegedly abused by corrupt BARC officials to manually intervene and willfully and deliberately improve channel ranks for favoured channels.
Times Network has assured that it uses only bonafide and legally valid means to do its business. It does not indulge in Panel-Tampering or bribing BARC officials which are cheating practises followed by unscrupulous players as is being unravelled in the ongoing investigation in the TRP Scam for which the former BARC CEO is currently being interrogated in Police custody. Times Network has optimised its Product, Brand and Distribution with best-in-class inputs including Landing pages at prevailing market prices to deliver its channels to maximum viewers and it is worthy to note that any increment in viewership is real and genuine. Our advertisers get genuine viewers that they have paid for, unlike on channels who allegedly manipulate ratings, where advertisers would have been duped to pay for artificially inflated numbers and non-existent viewers.