Arnab Goswami, arguably the most talked about Indian journalist in recent years, has released a teaser video on the upcoming launch of his new television channel Republic TV.
The video shows Goswami writing a letter to Mr Gandhi — perhaps a reference to Congress Party Vice President Rahul Gandhi — informing him that ‘he’s coming soon’.
“Dear Mr Gandhi, it’s been a while,” says Goswami in the video. “I missed you through election season. I thought it was a good time to let you know Mr Gandhi, that I’m coming back. See you soon!.”
Goswami then proceeds to put the envelope in a stack of other similar envelopes, presumably full of similar ‘intimation letters’ addressed to other political leaders informing them of his impending arrival back on the scene.
The television anchor, known for his ‘hyper patriotic’ talk shows that often focused on India’s relations with its westerly neighbour Pakistan, left his previous job as the editor of market-leading Times Now after tensions arose between him and the owners of the channel.
It is believed that the owners, brothers Samir Jain and Vineet Jain, were not happy with Goswami’s aggressive take on many subjects, including and particularly, India’s relationship with Pakistan.
Times Now routinely held ‘cross border’ talk shows in which it would include some guests from across the border. Among the highlights of the show — illustrated with fiery graphics — included Goswami’s own interventions, often ‘defending’ India against the country’s ‘enemies’.
However, in the days preceding the resignation, Vineet Jain had publicly come out against a campaign run by Times Now that questioned Indian film producers employing Pakistani actors.
“By supporting Pak artists v come out stronger globally.we get known as a liberal & peaceful nation.We isolate Pak even more among pak citizens,” Janin tweeted in early October, leading a guest on Goswami’s channel to chide him about the apparent division between the channel’s views and those of its owner.
This led Goswami to retort: “I don’t own up to anyone’s views and nobody owns my views. Am I clear to you? Nobody owns my views.”
In January this year, Krishn Kaushik of Indian Express reported that ‘Republic TV’ will have a large investment from Rajeev Chandrasekhar, a Rajya Sabha MP considered close to the ruling dispensation at the center and the vice chairman of the National Democratic Alliance in Kerala.
Chandrasekhar, who is credited with building up BPL Mobile — one of India’s earliest cellphone companies — also owns Asianet News, a television news company that operates a eponymous Malayalam news channel, as well as an FM station.
The upcoming channel has been tagged as an “ARG Outlier Media – Asianet News Service” indicating its mixed origin.
Other investors in the new channel include Ranjan Ramdas Pai of Aarin Capital Partners, Ramakanta Panda of Asian Heart Institute in Mumbai, investor Hemendra Kothari, Naresh and Shobhana Ramachandhran of TVS Tyres, Niranjan Shah of Renaissance Jewellery and DEN Networks’ Sameer Manchanda, Sanjeev Manchanda and Tapesh Virendra Singhi.
Meanwhile, Times Now has been reported to have lost some of its lead over rival channels after Goswami’s exit. Some of its staff have also joined Republic.
It is believed that Republic TV will be launched in the next 10-15 days and it will focus largely on ‘hard’ news like politics and Indo-Pak relations.
However, it remains to be seen how successful Goswami will be seizing the crown once again in the already crowded, and not-so-profitable English language television news market.
Much of Times Now’s success was due to relentless campaigns run by the channel against corruption scandals under the previous, Congress Party-led government. This was in stark contrast to the rather tame, and in some ways forgiving approach of its main rivals, and was possible due to the staunch support of the owners as well as Goswami’s own editorial zeal.
It remains to be seen how far the new channel can go in taking an adversarial position with regard to the current dispensation at the center.
Goswami has, in recent years, been more candid in revealing an ambition to create a ‘world class’ global television news network based out of India that will take on the likes of the BBC and CNN.