Arnab Goswami’s ‘Republic’ Moves One Step Closer To Your TV Screen 

Arnab Goswami’s ‘Republic’ Moves One Step Closer To Your TV Screen  Arnab Goswami (Wikimedia Commons)
Snapshot
  • As per reports, a bunch of investors is now on board.

The broad contours of India's top news anchor Arnab Goswami's next media venture, ‘Republic’, have now emerged. Arnab has an lined up a marquee list of diverse investors to fund his next avatar as founder-entrepreneur. The ownership structure clearly suggests that he may continue pursuing his independent but inquisitorial style of journalism that catapulted a rather obscure NDTV staffer to being India's biggest television news sensation. Arnab has perhaps quickly learnt his lesson from his abrupt exit from Times Now - on the whimsical ways of the domineering owners of big media behemoth. link

This good Newsminute story on Republic's funding also suggests that while at 56 crores the scale of capital might look rather miniscule given Arnab's grand vision for Republic, Arnab may have managed to fix the most critical link of distribution by roping in Sameer Manchanda of DEN network, a leading cable player.

It is Arnab's meteoric rise over the last few years that has led to petty professional jealousy among many in his fraternity, including some of his erstwhile colleagues who have fallen by the wayside due to either overt political allegiance or dubious wheeling-dealing. Nothing else explains the attempt to besmirch his yet-to-air channel as a partisan, ideological, or political attempt.

A cursory look at the list of investors for Arnab's venture suggests that, barring a solitary exception, it is largely distinguished apolitical individuals from various walks of life who are funding it.

While legitimate criticism can be directed against his TV performances often marked by theatrical monologues steeped in extreme righteousness and deliberate disrespect of his guests, there are a few qualities of his that are beyond dispute - he is no partisan hack nor he is consumed by any ideological dogma.

Ever since his exit from Times Now, he has been giving tantalising hints about the modus operandi of his new media offering. At a speech in Goa in November, he said that he would dissent against mainstream media by totally disrupting the rules of the game. He went on to add that over the next three to four years, he would "wrench" the center of Indian journalism out of Lutyen's Delhi and dissipate it over cities and towns all over the country. "We'll disrupt the rules and modes and focus of news and news gathering and make it democratic", he had said.

Arnab also threw the gauntlet to mainstream and traditional media by daring them to compete with him at creating a new media that would not only change every rule, but also make Indian media a truly global one that would take on the likes of BBC and CNN.

Earlier, in December 2015, at a discussion organised by Russia Today, he had emphatically asserted that the Western news “hegemony has to end”. He had also predicted that this hegemony would most likely be challenged by India. For here, the English media has a small but influential local audience, and could potentially seek a global footprint. “India will be the next media capital of the world” he had said at the event. (Listen to see what he said in this YouTube video here)

It is logical for him to think global, for domestic growth opportunities will be limited for English language media.

On the other hand, there is the other reality: despite high TRPs, English language channels have almost never made money. Going global means they will lose even more. Channels like Al Jazeera – funded by Qatar’s oil and gas money – have not been able to make a mark in the West, especially the US. After spending millions in recruiting top-notch journalists and programming, Al Jazeera America closed down in April this year.

If India has to challenge the global hegemony in English news, it needs large amounts of capital and not just Arnab Goswami.

The only player who can fund such a global venture is the government of India, and the best option for this would be a public-private channel, which is kept at arm’s length from the government, and yet managed efficiently and professionally, with high quality programming.

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