Amid growing support for net neutrality in India, several Internet companies have pulled out of Facebook and Reliance Communications’ zero-rating platform Internet.org. Cleartrip, Times Internet, NDTV and NewsHunt, who had signed on as partners with Facebook’s initiative, have announced their support for net neutrality and appealed to other Internet companies to do the same.
Cleartrip explained on its blog why it had signed on with Internet.org and says that Facebook reached out and asked them to participate in the Internet.org initiative with the intention of helping them deliver one of their most affordable products to the more underserved parts of the country. “There was no revenue arrangement between us and Internet.org or any of its participants — we were neither paid anything, nor did we pay anything to participate. Additionally we don’t make any money out of that product. Since there was absolutely zero money changing hands, we genuinely believed we were contributing to a social cause,” the company added.
Times Internet said that TimesJobs and Maharashtra Times will pull out of Internet.org as its competitors are not on zero-rate platforms. The company added that it would pull out the Times of India application if its its direct competitors – India Today, NDTV, IBNLive, NewsHunt, and BBC – also pull out. NewsHunt replied on Twitter and said that it exited the Internet.org deal last week.
“The group also encourages its fellow language and English news publishers – Dainik Jagran, Aaj Tak, Amar Ujala, Maalai Malar, Reuters, and Cricinfo – to join the campaign for net neutrality and withdraw from zero rate schemes,” Times Internet said on its blog.
Meanwhile media house NDTV co-founder tweeted that the broadcaster is leaving Internet.org.