Launch of Republic TV is a rare case of event where it seemed like less effort were required to be invested on detailed advertisements and promotions. Thanks to the brand called “Arnab Goswami” and other controversial turn of events that we have been glorified for around five months. We were repeatedly reminded that we would soon be blessed with screams and shouts of Goswami. Fact is, People either hate him or love him but no one can ignore him. He is a famous brand in himself and daring decision to launch an independent News Channel all by himself is indeed commendable. If we dig into the past, all his batch mates from NDTV, Barkha Dutt and Rajeev Sardesai seemed to have moved way behind him. Barkha Dutt with baggage of some of her infamous controversies and not so clear career path trekking on and off from Print media, The Quint to election and Rajeev Sardesai with one news bulletin in India Today TV, it seems like Goswami with consistency, fearless and independent attitude has managed to leave his colleagues and seniors way behind him and making himself a brand worth backing.
Now coming back to the Promotion part, all zero down to Goswami being a brand. It seemed like Goswami is a big threat to his ex-employer when Bennett Coleman sent a legal notice to Goswami asking him to forbear using the term “the nation wants to know after they filed trademark of the phrase in December 2016. This was followed by a trademark filing in January 2017 for the same phrase by Goswami’s Media company, ARG Outlier Media Pvt. Ltd under which Republic TV operates. This particular incident seemed too silly considering it was only an oft-used phrase and not a name representing any kind of popular show. Nevertheless, it was a jackpot for the media Start-up which managed to attain a huge promotion without having to spend a penny. Icing on the cake was added when BJP Leader, Subramanium Swamy wrote to Ministry of Information and Broadcasting against Goswami naming his channel as “Republic” to which the former cited that it is in violation of Emblems and Names act 1950. This incident forced the Team to change the name as “Republic TV” from “Republic”. Finally, with humongous hue and cry, providing much relief to large chunk of Goswami fans, Last Saturday, May 6, 2017 “Republic TV” went live at 10 AM IST. Goswami flagged it off with a ten minutes long speech which seemed rather subdued. It was clearly reflecting that he seemed too much overawed by the responsibility of bringing his channel into number 1 position as quickly as possible, day 1 being not exempted for any kind of relaxation. The speech was rather disappointing to say the least.
Soon it was followed by panels appearing on the screen with panelists looking cudgeled and Goswami as dazed and restless as usual. Tiny change was contributed by Goswami’s physical appearance with long greasy neatly combed hair making him look like the character hero of Satyajit Ray’s Movies. The opening story about political don Shahabuddin calling from his Siwan jail cell in Bihar on April 15/2016, asking Lalu Prasad Yadav to reign in the cops in the middle of a riot was largely pointless considering almost all politics frenzy Indians know the real definition of Bihar Politics. Following days were followed by big debates centered on the sacked AAP minister and digging do or die issue of Sunanda Pushkar.
It is a commendable move to see Goswami launching an independent Media channel and bit early to predict the path it will pave for itself. However, analysis of first Week presentations doesn’t seem to be matching it’s over the top hypes created before its launch.
TRP data is not available to give an exact statistics of the first Week performance of the Channel. However, what makes us a bit cynical is when we analysed the entire set up of the Media house. While Goswami positions the media house as independent and fierce which parallels his own brand positioning and promises to present unbiased News and remain intact on its promise, what we are not very convinced about a whole lot of other things related to the company. The first important point to be noted is one of the major Investors who reportedly invested a whopping amount of ₹30 crore is an independent Member of Parliament in the Rajya Sabha and also the vice-chairman of BJP in its Kerala Wing. Secondly, it is indeed a known fact that Arnab Goswami himself is a fanatic fan of Right wingers and is one of them. Reportedly, the channel’s editorial team received an email from the CEO, Amit Gupta instructing the conditions required for hiring talents. They were instructed to hire talents keeping in mind, Right of center, Pro-Military, aligned to Chairman’s ideology and thoughts on nationalism and governance. Keeping in view all these aspects and quick review on Arnab’s opening speech it seems like Republic TV is nothing different from the likes of Zee News or India TV who is already ruling that nationalistic roost. Goswami has stated during promo that he will silence the “pseudo-liberals who go to leftists”. It is no rocket science to guess that Goswami is a hard core anti-leftist. Time will tell what path Republic will follow to present News against BJP or against any right wingers in that case. It will be interesting to see any kind of unbiased news compromising the ideology of Right wingers for that matter if it happens in any near future, that’s what we hope.
I have been following Republic TV very closely since the launch and the first week doesn’t seem to excite or give anything new to us. Only Silver lining is, Goswami isn’t a hypocrite unlike other media personalities and always open about doing anything which was pushed by others. The definition of Journalism displayed by Goswami is a bit vague or difficult to understand but we eagerly wait to see what lies ahead. Time will tell if there is any turn of events in case of standards followed by Republic to strive in media Business which finally zeroes down to TRP games. Let us wait and see.